“Every morning I deliver the news,” shrieks Jack White on “Sixteen Saltines.” “Black hat, white shoes and I’m red all over.” With its slasher guitar and funky Hammond organ riffs powering an emotional roller-coaster of lust and jealousy, this is White as his fans probably always imagined him. Yet by the time the album has reached the end of a thrilling journey through roots rock, folk, blues and country, the 21st century’s great revivalist guitar slinger is questioning the constrictions of his carefully built image.
Over a slippery double-bass figure pulsing beneath a dreamy weave of acoustic guitars, pedal steel and airy piano, a querulous White delicately laments that “The people around me/ Won’t let me become what I need to/ They want me the same/ I look at myself and I want to/ Just cover my eyes and/Give myself a new name” (“On and On and On”).
Somewhere between these two poles, between a fan-like enthusiasm for the historic base of “classic” rock ’n’ roll and a restless, itchy urge for originality, Jack White has concocted an absolute corker: a rich, ripe masterpiece with two feet in the past and a nose for the future.
Blunderbuss is billed as the 36 year-old’s solo debut but, since he was the driving force in the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Dead Weather, it feels more like a continuation, or distillation. He weaves together all his influences with a spirit of loose invention and the command of a veteran band leader.
Yet, for all the pain and self-doubt, it sounds like White is having a ball. From its raucous, raw-edged opening salvo to the softer, weirder, ruminative closing tracks, Blunderbuss crackles with life and energy, hauling roots rock out of the dusty museum and into the dazzling light of the modern day. — The Telegraph
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