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White’s solo album blunders

April 27, 2012

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It’s rather difficult to put your finger on Jack White’s newest album, “Blunderbuss.”  The former guitarist and lead vocalist of the White Stripes and Raconteurs member makes his debut solo album with what feels like influences from just about every genre of music, from jazz to ‘70s rock.

There is definitely a hint of the White Stripes here, and something of an inkling of the Raconteurs, but it all just feels off. The listener expects more of the kick associated with the White Stripes, but it’s just not there. It mostly noticeable in the first few songs when we’re all expecting something along the White Stripes and only get a fraction of that. It’s not until a couple of songs in that it’s quite obvious that this isn’t going to be a White Stripes album. It’s about that same point that White tones down the guitar and has the synthesizers take the front, noticeably in track four “Love Interruption.”

But what turns the album from a mediocre, lackluster attempt to emulate the White Stripes to a solidly decent compilation is White’s decision to take quite a few liberties with this album, knowing that White Stripes fans will buy it regardless.

In the midst of the album becoming more subdued, White begins to play with the stereo sound, having guitar come out the left speaker and the vocals, the right. It makes for an interesting experience, especially when listening on headphones.

In this, the album’s title track might be the most unexpected surprised. Generally the standard-bearer of any album, White really experiments with the title track by forsaking the usual 4/4 time signature and hitting up a 3/4 time signature with a violin in bluesy, smooth, early Cold War Kids fashion and for whatever reason inspires a feeling of loss and yearning, possibly for Joss Whedon’s “Firefly,” but maybe that’s just me.

At the same time, other songs take older styles and slightly modernize them.

“I’m Shakin’” is reminiscent of 1950s and 1960s rock-‘n’-roll with female back-up singers while track 11, “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep,” has quite a bit of bluesy jazz piano.

Ultimately, though, the album’s major flaw is just that it feels way too dampened. In nearly every song, it feels like White was holding back for some reason, perhaps to get a feel of the production of a solo album or perhaps to move away from the style of the White Stripes. Had he put more energy into his songs and kicked up the guitar, the album would have been an excellent album.

Instead, this album comes across as more of an experiment. Either way, it’s a decent enough album, but just not what anyone was expecting.

Andrew Drea

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