Apr 25, 2012 Web Exclusive
For all of the music Jack White has put out into the world, Blunderbuss is his first solo album, though it sounds much like his work with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, or The Dead Weather. Written, recorded, and produced entirely by White, Blunderbuss has all the stomp and sway of his best records, but also the unevenness that plagues him to varying degrees.
White is obviously a prodigiously talented songwriter, one of the finest working today. A beauty like the title track, with its subtle shifts, or the opening "Missing Pieces," shows someone capable of timeless pop songs. "Sixteen Saltines" shreds through two and a half minutes with glorious abandon; the story of a boy falling for a woman of perhaps questionable moral character matches the ferocity of the guitars. The lyrics, as always, are loaded with double entendres and great images. "Spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat," White sings. He reserves his best work, however, for the first single, "Love Interruption." White sets violent imagery against a gently strummed guitar and smooth electric piano, and this tension embodies his desires, "I want love to/murder my own mother/and take her off to somewhere/like hell or up above." It's phenomenal work, and between the two songs, White shows admirable lyrical range.
Somewhere along the way, though, the emotions fail to match up, or the song structures that always sound so familiar fail to separate themselves from what's come before. On Blunderbuss, this disconnect happens halfway through the album, and tracks such as "Trash Tongue Talker" and "I Guess I Should Go to Sleep" never gather enough momentum to truly take off. It's during this lull that one wonders whether songwriting might come too easily for White, whether he could write these tunes in his sleep. That's speculation, but the early fire of Blunderbuss fizzles out as it wears on. (www.jackwhiteiii.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 7/10