Jack White’s Blunderbuss starts with some acerbic statements on love and revisits them intermittently throughout. It’s this personal bite that colours the record – even if musically he’s not always snapping at the heels.
We know full well White likes to rock and his recent projects with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather have allowed him to explore various compartments of the rock canon. But alone he takes a more classic route – adding keys, acoustics and even some jiving female backing singers to re-interpret what’s been before. Yeah, you can hear the influences, from Zeppelin to Chuck Berry to Muddy Waters, but White’s voice is just as distinct and his passion has never been in question.
I’m not sure who’s been messing with White’s head in the emotional sense, but on some tracks, like opener Missing Pieces, someone has clearly stolen his heart (along with his hands, arms and legs – check the lyrics). There’s more to be said in the acoustic and piano tumble that is Hypocritical Kiss.
Weep Themselves to Sleep gets back to the giant chords (again backed with piano), but it feels a little too safe for White – an easy rhythm and mid-paced textbook. But he makes good with the excellent mid-section solo, where the guitar stutters with interference.
The title track somehow manages to use the musician’s signature vocal delivery on a different tip – here it’s lulled into calmer waters, led by the humming sounds of a pedal steel. And even there is a few mindless run throughs that don’t exactly test the Detroit musician – they aren’t unlistenable by any means.
If you don’t confine this record to the lower end of the volume dial the favour will be reciprocated – I can assure you of that. Jack White doesn’t fuck around, even when he’s clearly been swallowing some of life’s bitter pills.