PUSHING ALL THE BUTTONS Jack White

Despite a few
missteps, the multitasking maestro is hotter than ever on his solo debut. Tour
dates start this week.

 

BY A.D. AMOROSI

That the Raconteur, White Stripe and Dead Weather-man has
waited this long since his 1997 publicly recognized start to make a solo record
says what about Jack White? That Blunderbuss is his career best to this point? (Doubtful.) That he waited this long for this
set of songs to simmer? (Nah…) That he’s taken those aforementioned projects to
their limits? (He may think so.) That he’s tired of pretending he’s the host of
a democracy? (Probably.) And that he’s finally willing to show he’s the one
pushing all the buttons? (Definitely.)

 

“Sometimes people control everything about you,” White sings
curtly through the Hammond
organ jam of “Missing Pieces,” before heading into his trademark high-howl: “They’ll take pieces of you.”

 

White wants those pieces all to himself.

 

 

 

The Nashville
skyline’s breeze that hovers over Blunderbuss (Third Man Records) is hotter and more, well, blustery than anything White’s
managed previously. Certainly his immediate past is easy to spot here. There’s the
steamy vocal line of “Sixteen Saltines” that pounces upon the rangy garage
barrage of guitar scrawl in the best Stripes-y way possible, yet the sound is
fuller and the rhythm ripe with a tom tom’s cool chugging tonnage. “Hip
(Eponymous) Poor Boy” is the finest country party pop that the Raconteurs never
recorded, with some solid banjo rave ups.

 

And it being a Jack White effort, the kitchen sink is filled
with dishy old T. Rex and Robert Johnson takes and Jagger-like-moves. White’s
drawl and Ruby Amanfu’s coo complement each other handsomely on the C&W
ballad “Love Interruption.” The
nearly epic “Freedom at 21” grants access to excess and moves torridly through
hillbilly glam-rock bliss until it explodes with a six-string slinging solo the
equivalent of Godzilla mauling Japan. “Weep Themselves to Sleep” is a
mini-opera of multi-climaxing riffage that should thrill the ladies and scare
Leslie West.

 

So why isn’t Blunderbuss perfect? Because sometimes all of White’s histrionics result in something
cartoon-like. And you know he wasn’t kidding. White’s still occasionally awkward
as a lyricist, as fumbling a wordsmith as he is bomb-diving a guitarist.  There’s no doubt that he can play the blues
with deep abiding passion, yet once in awhile his saddest runs seem
surprisingly cold – and I don’t mean Albert King steel-eyed chilling. The jive-talking,
honky tonking “Trash Tongue Talker,” the mussed up Presley-punking “I’m
Shakin’,” the dizzy-bitch psych-prog screech of “Take Me with You When You Go”:
these moments are so over the top you’re not entirely certain if he’s kidding.

 

Blunderbuss is
good, damn good, and its’ few missteps unthinking. Those solo baby steps are
hell.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Jo McCaughey]

 

Jack White Tour
Dates:

 

04/27/12 – New York, NY – Webster Hall (live AMEX Unstaged webcast on VEVO)
04/30/12 – Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theater
05/15-16/12 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
05/18-20/12 – Gulf Shores, AL – The Hangout Music Fest
05/19/12 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
05/21-22/12 – NY, NY – Roseland Ballroom
05/24/12 – Detroit, MI – Scottish Rite Theater
05/26/12 – George, WA – Sasquatch Music Festival
05/27/12 – Vancouver, BC – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
05/28/12 – Eugene, OR – Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Silva Concert
Hall)
05/30-31/12 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

 

 

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