Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Jack White - Blunderbuss

Occasionally there is an artist who has either the luck or the talent to make anything they touch a project that will garner both public and critical appeal.  Jack White is one of these artists. 

Hailing from Detroit Michigan, White has released albums under The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.  As a solo musician, he has collaborated with Beck, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, Electric Six, Wanda Jackson and Loretta Lynn.  It is apparent that Jack White has a passion for music that is not seated any Genre.  His Nashville record store and label, Third Man Records, boasts a recording studio, performance venue, vinyl pressing plant and store and is constantly turning out collectables under their slogan “your turntable is not dead!”  White’s releases are released specifically to vinyl with cd’s and digital copies being an afterthought, which seems to be the exact opposite that other labels think.

On to the meat of this album, which hands down is the album of the year.  The title of Jack’s first completely solo project is called Blunderbuss,  It is experimental and diverse into almost all genre of music.  Occasionally, it treads on familiar territory such as the White Stripes feeling single Sixteen Saltines.  With it’s catchy yet simple riffing, it displays all the characteristics that The White Stripes held dear.  If this album simply repeated the format, it would be a good record, but would only be a one trick pony and not the album of the year.  The album opens with a simple electric piano opening into the track Missing Pieces.  Following soon enough are drums, guitar and bass.  This song sounds nothing like Jack’s previous body of work, yet it doesn’t feel alien to his voice as he manages the vocals with dexterity.  Freedom of 21, the album’s third track opens with whining steel guitars and strings and clearly feels that it could belong on an old country troubadour record, however it is completely modern and feels equally like a rock song. 

It would be easy to go through the tracks one at a time and provide a little background of each, but this would rob you, the listener, of experiencing this record as it should be, and that is with no preconceived notions. 

There are some additional gems that should be mentioned such as the side 2 opener, I’m Shakin', which is a feel good 50’s era blues rocker with female backing singers.  It is indeed too fun to miss, as well as Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy which would take an amazing amount of willpower to not dance to in your chair or at least smile and hum along. 

The vinyl itself is made by a label that loves vinyl and puts great care into releasing a package that carries a greater value than the cd.  The vinyl is a single LP 180 gram pressing in a gatefold cover. The outside cover features a picture of White on the front with a large black bird on his shoulder.  The back is a picture of the Nashville Electric Service.  Inside the Gatefold, there is artwork as well as an insert featuring the artwork from the cd booklet as well as a download card to get a free copy of the entire album in 320 KBPS mp3’s for your portable player. 

To me, there’s no question that this record is album of the year.  It’s a very diverse album with absolutely no filler tracks.  Each time you listen, you will hear something new.  While some songs will stand out as favorites, there is no doubt this album can be played from beginning to end each and every time.

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