I just purchased the album “Blunderbuss” by Jack White, his first solo project. Holy shit, the guy is good, and I mean really good. I must admit that I had mixed feelings beforehand, but right after the first time I listened through the whole record, I was completely blown away. Blown away is actually not a good expression – I think ‘satisfied with a grin on my face’ would be more adequate.
Here is the Track List:
1. Missing Pieces, 3:27
2. Sixteen Saltines, 2:37
3. Freedom at 21, 2:51
4. Love Interruption, 2:38
5. Blunderbuss, 3:06
6. Hypocritical Kiss, 2:50
7. Weep Themselves to Sleep, 4:19
8. I’m Shakin’ (Rudy Toombs), 3:00
9. Trash Tongue Talker, 3:20
10. Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy, 3:03
11. I Guess I Should Go to Sleep, 2:37
12. On and On and On, 3:55
13. Take Me with You When You Go, 4:10
Okay, it starts off with the mid-tempo track called “Missing Pieces” which is the perfect opener. It’s not too soft and not too heavy. The lyrics harmonize perfectly with atmosphere created by the music. This is some really amazing writing and my favorite lines are:
“..Sometimes someone controls everything about you. And when they tell you that they just can’t live without you, they ain’t lying, they’ll take pieces of you. And they’ll stand above you. And walk away, that’s right. And take a part of you with them..”
I think in one way or another, we can all relate to this, right? Well, at least I can. Anyway, “Missing Pieces” is the perfect prelude to the next tune, which is a killer and probably the reason why I bought Blunderbuss in the first place: “Sixteen Saltines”! It was about 7:00am this morning and I was on Interstate 287 headed to work when this sound monster came blasting out of my speakers. “Good Morning” and major kick in the behinder! The riff is brilliant, simple but with plenty of bite, just the way I like it. Aside from Jack White’s guitar work – in addition to the main riff – there is a pretty neat overdubbed solo at the end of the song, I also would like to point out Carla Azar’s dead on drums which contribute significantly to this song.
“Freedom at 21” is a little bit more tamed, but certainly not less interesting. Very cool lyrics again with phrases such as” ..cut off the bottom of my feet an, made me walk on salt..” And great guitar work with a cool and rather unusual solo. Speaking of phrases, lyrically, “Love Interruption” is my absolute favorite. Just listen to the song and you know what I mean. It’s weird, because the melody, the singing and Jack’s acoustic guitar playing do not really match the rather martial statements. Yet, it’s still a perfect fit. I think this song could have gone terribly wrong, but it clearly turned into a gem, in my opinion. The next one is the title track “Blunderbuss”. For the life of me, this one reminds me of another son, but I can’t remember which one. Again, very carefully crafted lyrics with a complex sound arrangements guided by the slide work of Fats Kaplin on pedal steel, almost fragile and hesitant.
“Hypocritical Kiss” reminded me instantaneously of Fiona Apple, not only of the dominant piano, but just the way the song is arranged, and the type of lyrics. “Weep Themselves To Sleep” features an interestingly dubbed staccato-esque type of guitar solo by Jack and is yet another rather complex arrangement with solid work on the piano. “I’m Shakin’” is as far as I know an old Little Willie John tune, I definitely recognized the theme of the song right away. Jack’s version has a little bit more groove and pace to it, pretty cool track, it has a nice old-time Rock ‘n’ Roll and Swing feel to it.
“Trash Tongue Talker” is a kind of up-tempo blues tune and if I read the booklet correctly, Jack White is playing piano while the guitar is handled by a guy named Jake Orrall. I didn’t know that Jack was playing piano, so I guess I just learned something new. By the way, he did a hell of a job on the keys. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” are probably the two tracks that I still have to get into it. They are not bad songs, not at all, yet, they just don’t speak to me in the same way the other tunes do.
“On And On And On” fooled me, I though Jack White is doing a kind of cover of Michael Schenker’s (or UFO’s) “On and On”, well, it’s definitely not a Schenker song, but rather another one of these carefully put together arrangements with many facets and diverse elements. Tranquil and soft, probably the most laid back song of the whole album. The final track is “Take Me With You When You Go” is another one of those tunes that remind me of Fiona Apple featuring two prominently placed fiddles that give the song its unique accent. Oh, yes, there is also a surprising bridge with another great guitar solo by Jack.
Okay, this is obviously just my very personal and rather modest attempt to give you a glimpse on Blunderbuss by Jack White. It’s a fantastic album and I am very glad that I got it. It surprised me, but in a thoroughly positive sense. While this not a typical “guitar record”, it does showcase Jack White’s talent, but in careful moderation and always perfectly adequate for the respective song. “Blunderbuss” is definitely not solely defined by “Sixteen Saltines”, all the other tracks play an important role and round up the whole project. Yet, it will be probably the track the Jack White’s first solo album will get identified with.
Another surprise: the album is available for under 10 bucks. Amazing. So do Jack and yourself a favor and buy it legitimately. Here is a link to my Guitarshop which is where you can buy it from.