This spring, Jack White, modern blues mastermind and guitarist extraordinaire, released his first solo album. White is the man behind the outlandish, color-coordinated Detroit rock duo The White Stripes, who, with hits like “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and “Seven Nation Army,” revived rock music and brought the blues to an unexpecting but grateful generation.
White also created the blues-folk band The Raconteurs and the psychedelic-blues band The Dead Weather, both of which never failed to shock and satisfy eager audiences. But none of his bands had put out a record since The Dead Weather’s “Sea of Cowards” in 2010. With the 2011 announcement that The White Stripes were retiring, fans and critics wondered about White’s future role in music. But “Blunderbuss” does not disappoint.
The album features tracks with aspects of all that pleased fans of his other bands: the roaring guitar of The White Stripes, the folksy vibe of The Raconteurs, and the darkness of the Dead Weather.
“Blunderbuss” also possesses an unprecedented complexity, including a thrilling array of lyrics that denote disturbingly detailed images (“Cut off the bottoms of my feet, make me walk on salt” from “Freedom at 21”) while eliciting honest emotion and prudent insight into the cruel nature of love and loss (“I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me” from “Love Interruption”). Its intricate musical arrangements range from the crisp, screaming guitar that drives “Sixteen Saltines” to the pounding piano of “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep.”
Much like the artist himself, the album is full of creativity and wisdom, and while it is different from White’s previous work, it stays true to his identity. Jack White’s solo music is not as peculiar as The White Stripes’, as friendly as The Raconteurs’, or even as straight-forward as The Dead Weather’s. But it doesn’t need to be. There is a natural artistry and maturity here that manages to achieve the seemingly impossible: it reveals that there is another side of White’s music that could arguably be his best effort yet.