No Stripes Necessary – Jack White’s “Blunderbuss”

I will start by saying that I have never been into the White Stripes and I have never really been a Jack White guy.  I completely respect Jack White and there have certainly been moments that grabbed my attention.  The unlikely magic of his pairing with Loretta Lynn, the infectious stomp of “Icky Thump”, the power folk of “My Doorbell”, the infectious power pop of The Raconteurs – this is some of the evidence I use to convince myself that Jack White is a unique and special talent.

Add his new album, Blunderbuss, to that list.

A lot of hype has surrounded this solo release, much of it stemming from the strength of White’s reputation.  The hype machine can be a dangerous one for an artist to get caught in.  But not so, here.  Blunderbuss is an engaging and energetic rock and roll journey with plenty of crunch and soul.

White certainly counts Led Zeppelin among his influences, and that influence comes through loud and clear here (listening to the back half of “Take Me With You When You Go” may induce a fruitless search through your mind for which Zep song he is covering – he’s not).  Somewhat unexpectedly,  it’s on the quieter tracks where White seems to be deeply channeling his inner Robert Plant.  The beautiful title track, “Blunderbuss”, froze me the first time I heard it.  Certainly this was a forgotten Zeppelin ballad that White had fortuitously unearthed.  And wasn’t this Robert Plant himself contributing a guest vocal?Nope.  This vocal is all White, and the song is all from his mind.

The guitar intro for “Sixteen Saltines” reminds me of the old 21 Jumpstreet theme, but quickly makes way for a bluesy rock and romp with falsetto vocal.  And there is plenty of crunchy blues pop to go around!  White’s cover of Rudy Toombs’ “I’m shakin'” is a boot-stomping highlight.  On the lead single, “Love Interruption”, White and Ruby Amanfu sing “I won’t let love disrupt, interrupt, or corrupt me.  Anymore”.  It’s that last word that gives away the darkness of the verses, where love is sought to bring a brutal cleansing of the very pains it has previously brought forth.

Through all of the crunch and noise that we have come to associate with Jack White, Blunderbuss still feels rooted in some form of classic rock.  That’s not to say that it sounds dated – it is a relevant and modern record that will certainly sit well with Jack White fans.  But it will also appeal to those, like myself, who have not previously gone all in on Mr. White.  Who knows, I may just go back to The White Stripes and see what I missed on first listen.  But what I do know after listening to Blunderbuss is that, for Jack White, no stripes are necessary.  He works just fine with a blank pallet.


~ by themattmorrisshow on May 7, 2012.

2 Responses to “No Stripes Necessary – Jack White’s “Blunderbuss””

  1. Nice review of a great album! Here’s mine-

  2. Great review!

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