So the other night I found myself in a dilemma. Spend the last few hours with my girlfriend Emily before she left for Las Vegas for a week, or listen to Jack White's new record Blunderbuss. Well she didn't take me with her to Sin City so I chose the album. I made the right choice.
I've been waiting on this puppy for some time. I'm as big a White Stripes fan as they come and I adore The Raconteurs but The Dead Weather was a bit of a tough sell. The songs just didn't come together the way that Jack White III's other groups songs did.
Jack also went out of his way to torture White Stripes fans by releasing a great little documentary and the first official White Stripes live records ever while he was off dicking around with The Dead Weather and all it did was make fans clamor for more of the musical duo. Jack and Meg put out a press release not long after that officially stated the band was finally kaput. Though it was all but said already, I'm sure I shed a few tears when I actually read the notice.
We got a brief glimpse at what Jack was up to when the documentary It Might Get Loud came out in 2008. A pretty rad single was actually cut from the film and released as Jack White's first official solo release, Fly Farm Blues.
The song was killer and its got Jack's style all over it. But after that all to brief sample of Jack's solo work he went silent for four years.
The first sample I got of Blunderbuss was when he played to tracks from it on SNL a few weeks back.
The first was a mellow ballad which we've seen Jack do before but not quite in this vain. Its a lovely little song with some nice harmonies. (and who could say no to an all girl band?)
His second performance sounded like a track from any Stripes record. Its hard. Its fast. And its great. A solid rocker.
So from that performance, I still really had no idea what to expect from Jack's upcoming record. The result is...well......everything I couldn've wanted from it.
Even on the first listen Blunderbuss sounds a lot like Bad as Me by Tom Waits did when I first gave that a listen last year. It felt familiar. It felt warm. It felt good. Nothing on the album is stale or rehashed. It just feels like you've known these songs all your life. Like they were recorded out of time like only the greatest artists seem to be able to do. I watched a radio interview (yes, watched) today with Jack White and the reviewer ended up saying the same thing so I know I'm not nuts.
I think the reason is that we've all been listening to Jack for so long that even though he continues to wow us with what he can do we've grown to know him like a lover. We know his ticks. We know what gets him off. And as far as I'm concerned, I've got a lot of the same feelings Jack's got.
The songs are mainly riff based which is typical for Mr. White. But he pulls away to allow some killer piano and organ driven tracks. There's some great harmonies and backing vocals. Jack explained in the radio interview that he managed to record almost every song with a different set of people just to keep the energy moving throughout the recording process. I think it was a good move.
Jack's lyrics are right where we want them too. Songs about love that leave a sinister grin on your face when you actually pay attention to the words. Songs about being young, being in school, and having the worst crush possible. Jack also manages to really keep his songs very catchy. Even the deeper cuts on the record had me snapping my fingers and bobbing my head. Being catchy is far from the sure sign of a good record but here its just another pro on a long list that's fairly devoid of cons.
In fact the more I think about it, theres nothing on this record that I'd even call a con. Sure, I'm not madly in love with every track but so rarely does that actually happen on a record. Even the bands that put out these albums don't absolutely love every song (though this is actually a problem since they should. It'd probably make the damn thing more listenable).
I'll stop harping on over here and just say that when this record comes out, I advise you to go out and buy it. I will as well and I'll be doing so at the tiniest record store I can find. Digital albums are a wonderful convenience and an eventuality these days but knowing Jack, I think that having this record to hold will be worth your while.
See what I did there? I snuck in a "support record stores" thing right at the end. Do it. It'll make you a better person.