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Album Review: Jack White - Blunderbuss

14th May 2012

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As a singer/ songwriter/ guitarist/ pianist/ music producer/ actor with his own record label, Jack White seems to have done it all.

Well, not quite: in a career now spanning 15 years, it is only now that he has decided to release a solo album. And what an album it is...

Released on White's own Third Man Records label, Blunderbuss comes at an appropriate stage in his career: having finally severed all connections with the band that made him famous, The White Stripes, and further work with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather looking unlikely, the time has come for Detroit's whitest blues singer to drop the pretence of working with a band and simply disperse his seemingly unlimited talent under his name alone.

But it's not as if White is about to forget all that has gone before. The record clocks in at The White Stripes' standard 13 tracks, while former Raconteurs bandmates Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence make guest appearances.

Musically, Blunderbuss sounds distinctly like all of White's previous work compiled into a single album. Single Sixteen Saltines brings to mind the acerbic riffs of The Raconteurs' heavier side, Freedom at 21 is decidedly reminiscent of the dark blues sound of The Dead Weather, while Hypocritical Kiss sounds like the Stripes at their whimsical best.

For the most part, the record reads like a reworking of White's back catalogue, which is in no way a bad thing. Yet the work does have a character of its own: blending country and folk influences into White's trademark brand of garage blues-rock, Blunderbuss is very much the product of Jack White working under his own steam, rather than with the limitations of a band's particular aesthetic. It's traditional, yet timeless; back-to-basics, yet forward thinking. It's music for music's sake, and of course it's all so well-written that devouring the entire album in one sitting is very easily done.

Much like its creator, who plays interviewers and audiences just as well as he plays his signature guitars, Blunderbuss satisfies on so many levels but still leaves the listener yearning for more. It's almost as if White is teasing his fans, only offering a small portion of his material at any one time and withholding the rest of his limitless imagination for a later date.

But despite this, Blunderbuss is still fantastically good. It's a word that should never be used lightly, but Jack White seems to have cemented his status as one of the first musical legends of the 21st century.

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