Jack White hasn't really been boxed in as a member of the White Stripes for years now. He's been able to break new sonic territory with everyone from The Raconteurs to The Dead Weather, and that's not even counting the producing credits for everyone from Loretta Lynn to Whirlwind Heat. That said, White's first-ever solo album, "Blunderbuss" sounds a helluva lot like freedom.
Recorded at Third Man Studios, the analog haven White created a few years ago for himself and other like-minded analog enthusiasts, the record as a whole has a warm glow to it that's sorely lacking in most modern releases. Lead-off single "Love Interruption" is a fine example of this otherworldly warmth.
Album opener "Missing Pieces" sounds familiar enough to anyone who's delved into the White Stripes back catalog. Fiery guitar and blues organ are his schtick after all, but it's infinitely more powerful with a full band of top-notch musicians.
"Sometimes someone controls everything about you / And when they tell you that they just can’t live without you/They ain't lying, they’ll take pieces of you/And they’ll stand above you, and walk away/That’s right, and take a part of you with them,” he sings. It's hard not to take a message like that to heart.
Songs like "Sixteen Saltines" and "Freedom at 21" are not exactly what you'd expect from a Jack White solo record. Both songs (and a lot of the album) have a blistering anger and fire to them.
“Cut off the bottoms of my feet/Make me walk on salt/Take me down to the police/and charge me with assault /Smile on her face / She does what she damn well please,” he sings, scarily.
This is not to say that there aren't tender moments on the record. The stunningly gorgeous "I Guess I Should Go To Sleep" has harmonies not heard since the great depression. It's an effective re-imagining of "We Are Gonna Be Friends" in an Old West sort of way.
All in all, it's near-impossible to find a weak moment on "Blunderbuss." If there are any complaints to be leveled against it, it's only in comparison to other Jack White projects. For every other artist in the world, the gauntlet has been thrown down.