White’s album, ‘Blunderbuss,’ promises much but delivers little
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 21:04
Jack White, formerly half of the band The White Stripes and member of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, released his first solo effort in the form of an album called Blunderbuss last Tuesday. His foray into solo work follows last year’s split with The White Stripes, which he formed in 1997 with his then-wife Meg White.
Blunderbuss is a moniker that is metaphorically accurate, though probably not in the way White intended. A blunderbuss was a short and powerful gun used as early as the 18th century and often compared to the modern shotgun. The album is powerful, both emotionally and musically, but it’s often short on creativity, despite White’s admirable attempt to cover several different genres, including rock, country, electronic and ragtime.
These genres and styles that he experiments with range from country, in the title track, to the Motown-like cover of Little Willie John’s R&B hit “I’m Shakin’,” to the ragtime featured heavily in “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep.”
One of the most popular tracks on the album, based on the frequency it is played on the radio, is “Love Interruption,” and rightly so—it’s the pick of the album. The song highlights a smooth riff that doesn’t get old, unlike many of the other songs on the album. The vocals are brilliantly harmonized, and the lyrics are thought provoking and clever. Singing about his painful relationship with love, White declares in the chorus, “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me.”
While “Love Interruption” is more popular and widely played, “Weep Themselves To Sleep” is more exemplary of White’s music and skills and showcases him at his best. The rock ballad has a catchy, hard-hitting opening and only gets better from there. “Weep” also has an excellent, effect-heavy guitar solo towards the end. The angry lyrics are reflective of the overall theme of the album, and as a whole, the song mimics arguably one of his greatest songs, “Another Way To Die,” White’s collaboration with Alicia Keys for the James Bond series.
The third-best song on the album is “Take Me With You When You Go.” It features peppy piano and drums, an interesting harmony and later transitions into more of a rock sound. It also has another creative and enticing guitar solo.
Though these songs are enjoyable and creative, the album as a whole is not. Many of the songs are examples of very straightforward blues-influenced rock.
“Sixteen Saltines,” which is popular among fans of the album, is the song that rocks hardest, but it’s not very impressive outside of that. It gets your foot tapping from the start but loses interest fairly quickly.
Some of the songs on the album, like “Freedom at 21,” have extremely repetitive riffs that get old after a minute. “Freedom” also features unusual, interesting drums and creative rap-vocals, but neither of those can make up for the boring sound that makes you want to change the song before it’s over.
The song “Trash Tongue Talker” is simply straightforward, boring rock with a blues chord progression. Even its lyrics are simplified, as White complains about a woman who isn’t treating him well.
It appears that White is trying too hard for much of the album, and this is nowhere more clear than in the title of one of his songs, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy.” While the song lyrics justify his use of the word “eponymous,” it’s still a trite and over-complicated title.
Despite the mediocrity of these songs, White has a lot of potential as a solo artist. If he can stick to more of what The White Stripes did and not try to stray too much from the sound that he has mastered, I think he has a bright future ahead of him, and I look forward to his next album.