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‘Blunderbuss’ scatters the shot of opinion

Published 12:04pm Friday, April 20, 2012

From the opening note, it’s clear “Blunderbuss” isn’t yesterday’s Jack White.

White’s White Stripes days are behind him — at least for now — and White is pushing forward in his style.

White is entirely at the controls for his debut solo album as he acts as star, producer and releases the album on his own label, Third Man Records.

“Blunderbuss” opens with tones foreign to White’s previous work. Dare I say — the few opening moments sound like Prog-rock: think Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

It’s an opening statement by White to abandon expectations of The White Stripes, The Racanteurs, The Dead Weather, and all other White’s prior collaborations.

“Blunderbuss” quickly settles into a sound of an old record dusted off new. Don’t worry, it’s not a complete reinvention.

“Missing Pieces” opens the album with delightful guitar and organ tones.

But that’s followed by “Sixteen Saltines,” which sounds the most like The White Stripes. But there’s never the same dirty, seething guitars or distinct drums slogging through heavy beats.

“Love Interruption” is one of the standouts on the album, as White sings over a simple acoustic guitar. It’s a vaguely bluesy track that adds a new vexation to love-sick songs: “I want love / to walk right up and bite me / grab a hold of me and fight me / leave me dying on the ground,” White sings.

The song, like the album, is deceptively simple and casual. Jack White and Meg White were able to produce a robust sound with only two instruments in The White Stripes. On the other hand, “Blunderbuss” is much more subtle.

The whole album is cholk-full of enticing rock moments and unique tones, but it’s more retro-rock revisited than it is the raucous stylings of albums like “Under the Great White Divide.”

White’s distorted guitars and blues on “I’m Shakin’” prove why he still makes the founding fathers of rock proud.

White soars just as high as you’d expect at moments, like on the closing “Take Me With You When You Go.” But at many moments, the subtle, slower stylings seem to lack the pizzazz that set aside Jack White.

On first listen, my reaction was disappointment. But on second listen, it was admiration. On subsequent listens, I fell between the two — never able to fully pick one.

Many listeners are likely to fall on the extremes of this album, as it’s one you can’t easily put your finger on.


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