CD review: Jack White’s ‘Blunderbuss’
Wed, Apr 25, 2012 (5:45 p.m.)
- Jack White
“I eat 16 Saltine crackers, then I lick my fingers!” Try finding a better playful lyric in recent rock music … and you’ll probably end up where you started, plucking more choice lines off Jack White’s solo debut. The very first words on the record—”I was in the shower, so I could not tell my nose was bleeding”—for example.
As a wordsmith, White burns brightly throughout Blunderbuss, whether’s he’s impishly rhyming “bastard” with “plastered,” sucking us into his stories (“Cut off the bottoms of my feet/Made me walk on salt”) or opening up, seemingly, about life post-White Stripes (“The people around me won’t let me be 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”).
Even if we don’t want him the same, it’s tough listening to White’s new music without thinking back. When considering the recent past, that works out well for Blunderbuss. The Dead Weather? Disappointing when it wasn’t outright annoying. The Raconteurs? Had their moments, but never felt vital. Hell, even the final two Stripes albums bored as often as they bashed.
Can Blunderbuss hang with the good stuff (aka, the first four White Stripes discs)? Parts and pieces do: White’s whirling guitar solo in “Freedom at 21,” the double-tracked piano of “Hypocritical Kiss,” the pedal steel on the title track. And even if, overall, it never quite gathers the raw power of “Black Math” or “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” those who dig Jack White, creative lyrics or both should buy it. Where else to find lines like “force fed forced meds till I drop dead”?