Jack White’s first solo album, Blunderbuss, dropped today — and thanks to iTunes streaming the album for free the past week — I’ve been able to immerse myself in the music from start to finish many times a day. The album is a fascination. It’s ’70s Rock? Alternative Pop? Blues? Ragtime? Yes, Blunderbuss is all that and more.
I’ve listened to the haunting single, Love Interruption, from the album over 300 times since I initially purchased it a few weeks ago:
There is an inherent eeriness in Jack White’s music that is both scary and off-putting. His music is not warm and huggable. There is an embedded distancing in the songs that is necessary to build a larger picture of the pain and suffering that consume the cold and mouldering human condition. Jack White isn’t about enlightening the world in Blunderbuss, he’s actively interested in carving out places for us to hide from each other in private.
On “Blunderbuss,” the Detroit-born, Nashville-based White focuses on the pre-computer, post-hippie era of music, circa 1970-75, a style mastered by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople, the Who and, most obviously, the Faces, all of whom started off in the world of aggressive British Invasion rock but stretched out with bigger, heavier sounds as they matured.
Just as in the late 1960s when a new generation of axmen stepped in to carry the mantle of early blues guitarists Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, White’s obsession with the music and its history is in service of this tradition.
There’s a lot to like in Blunderbuss — favorite songs include “Blunderbuss,” “Hip,” and “Love Interruption” — but one cannot the shake the notion that there has to be more here but there isn’t any more there there; and that leaves us raw and wanting more in negative way that requires additional filling instead of an eponymous feeling of triumph and musical satisfaction. For some reason, Jack White wanted to leave us wanting more because he re-fed us what has already been bitten and burped — and that creates a truly empty space consumed by confusion and wondering about what we just heard and why it took so long to finish.