Jack White has proven to be one of the busiest and prolific artists of the last 15 years. Whether making a name for himself with the now defunct White Stripes, stretching out behind the kit in The Dead Weather, keeping up his chops opposite Brendan Benson in The Raconteurs, producing legends like Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson, buying taxidermied elephants, guesting with the likes of Alicia Keys, Danger Mouse & Daniel Luppi, or reimagining the vinyl record, he seems to constantly work and never sleep. And anyone who knows me is aware that these are qualities I admire. As fond as I am of Jack White, many folks are just as passionately against him. I’ve had many a discussion with folks who find White to be an insufferable, overrated poseur. White’s full length solo debut will do nothing to win over the naysayers. Alas, and alack.
For the rest of us, Blunderbuss is an interesting animal. While to date White has had his shiniest moments within a group dynamic, his sheer sonic presence often overshadows that of his collaborators. And as diverse as his various projects may be, he’s always able to give it that Jack White stamp to make it unmistakably his own.
Blunderbuss doesn’t take White into any new territory. It’s a fairly unadventurous album, in fact. Although there is no obvious (or perhaps even conscious) lifting from past projects, much of Blunderbuss sounds distinctly familiar. Although the album features all new compositions, it in some ways feels like Jack White’s Greatest Hits. That’s not to say that it is not a compelling album. More than anything, Blunderbuss makes clear just how much of an impact White has had in shaping the very sound of his other projects. For example, there are very clear echoes of The Raconteurs (“Missing Pieces”), The Dead Weather (“Sixteen Saltines”), White Stripes (“Freedom at 21,” “Blunderbuss,” “Hypocritcal Kiss,” “Wake Themselves to Sleep,” “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep”), and the Southern tinged sounds reminiscent of his work with Lynn and Jackson (“Trash Tongue Talker,” “I’m Shakin’,” “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”).
White’s MO on this album then, appears not to be blazing new trails, but revisiting and reconfiguring the ones that brought him to this point. There’s may be little on Blunderbuss that we haven’t already heard from Jack White, but there’s a lot to remind us of his well earned stature in today’s rock landscape.
Blunderbuss is on sale now. Check out the recently released creepfest of a video for “Sixteen Saltines” below: