By Campbell Easton
After two years of musical silence Jack White’s much awaited solo album “Blunderbuss” has been released to great critical acclaim. The album topped charts in Great Britain and the US upon its debut, making it a welcome return to form for White, who in recent years has found the popularity of his work to be waning.White originally found fame with The White Stripes, a garage-rock two piece he founded with his then wife Meg White, which went on to become one of the leading rock groups of the early 2000’s. The Stripes released their last record in 2007, and since then White has been struggling to meet the standards he set for himself. His latest endeavours, such as his work with bands The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, have been warmly received by fans, but marred by White’s increasingly eclectic sound, which angles more towards synthesised psychedelic rock than the simple two piece blues he is known for. From the start Blunderbuss sweeps the listener away to a stark, surreal world. The album kicks off with “Missing Pieces”, beginning with a simple, almost childlike keyboard riff, but then launching into White’s raw guitar playing and nostalgic vocals. The song evokes powerful images of sickness and pain to tell the story of the unwanted departure of someone close to White. It ends with the ominous lyrics “They’ll stand above you/ And walk away/ And take a part of you with them” before cutting off ominously. After a few seconds of awkward silence come the cutting opening chords of “Sixteen Saltines“, a fast, rock ‘n roll tune which hearkens back to the early days of White’s career. The unrefined, unaccompanied tone of the guitar, along with the simple punk rock rhythms rank the song not just as one of the best on the album, but perhaps one of the best of White’s career. It seems that after the failure of his latest work to succeed commercially, White has learned a few lessons, manifested in the maturity and sophistication present in certain songs. This is evident in “Love Interruption”, a sweeping acoustic duet in which he expresses his impatience with love. This bleak yet uplifting piece, couples the heartfelt sincerity of The White Stripes, with all of the depth and complication of White’s recent collaborations. The same elements are true of most songs on the album, but none more so the peculiarly named “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”. The upbeat rhythm and light instrumentals almost feel like components of a folksy-jig, while the lyrics conceal a snide message to White’s ex-wife. Blunderbuss isn’t all hits, but even it’s worst songs still rank it as one of 2012’s best rock releases. It combines all the best elements of Jack White’s unique style of music, featuring songs which range from straight up rock songs, to bluesy juke numbers, to sad ballads of loss and regret. For any music lover, Blunderbuss is well worth a listen.