Jack White Blunderbuss Review

29 Dec



Jack White Blunderbuss Review

By: Bob Gersztyn

I published this CD review of Jack White’s then new album Blunderbuss. whichย was released back in 2012, when Blues Revue/Blueswax was still in existence. According to Chip Eagle, who was the owner, publisher and editor in chief of the magazine, it was stolen from him by the guys that started “Blues Music Magazine,” so now I write for “Blues Rock Review,” instead. I like better than just covering the blues, because it can incorporate many rock groups whose roots are derived from blues, but are not necessarily considered a blues group, but are definitely a rock group, like “Led Zeppelin,” “U2” or even the “White Stripes.”


In 2008 Jack White starred in a documentary about 3 generations of rock guitaristโ€™s with “Led Zeppelin’s” Jimmy Page and “U2โ€™s” David (The Edge) Evans, as they explored the roots of classic riffs in โ€œIt Might Get Loud.” Whiteโ€™s inclusion in the film as a generation X guitar representative established his position in the guitar rock pantheon, however some hard core blues aficionados may balk at the suggestion that he should be associated with the blues. ย However, his recent album Blunderbuss hit a bulls eye with this writer. ย Itโ€™s an emotional rollercoaster that runs the gamut in musical exploration.


The first song, is โ€œMissing Pieces,โ€ with White singing, โ€œI was in the shower, so I could not tell my nose was bleedingโ€ฆ,โ€ while he alternated between playing the electric guitar and Rhodes piano. โ€œSixteen Saltinesโ€ is a staccato excursion into psychedelic dissonance, emerging into โ€œFreedom at 21,โ€ an anthem about turning 21. โ€œLove Interruptionโ€ is a theological journey into the multi-faceted complexion of morality, using a simple arrangement with White on acoustic guitar and vocals, with Emily Bowland on clarinet, Brooke Waggoner on piano and Ruby Amanfu forย  backup vocals, singing, โ€œI want love to change my friends to enemiesโ€ฆโ€ โ€œBlunderbussโ€ is the title song and employs Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar, Olivia Jean on drums, Bryn Davies on upright bass, along with Waggoner and Amanfu in their fore mentioned.


โ€œHypocritical Kissโ€ is a delicious excursion into the same territory that Bob Dylan explored in the mid 1960โ€™s from its poetic imagery to the ethereal voice that is punctuated by hammering keyboards. The entire album is as keyboard dominated as it is guitar based, allowing White to explore more complex musical configurations that the simplicity of the White Stripes wouldnโ€™t allow. Cutโ€™s like โ€œWeep Themselves to Sleep,โ€ provide ample opportunity for keyboard guitar interplay. โ€œIโ€™m Shakinโ€™โ€ is one of the bluesier cuts, reaching back to an R&B bebop sound with the guitar dominating, as White sings โ€“

โ€œSamson was a mighty good man, strongest in his day

Then along came Delilah and clipped his wig.โ€

โ€œTrash Tongue Talkerโ€ is a plaintiff whine with a two stepping Zydeco beat, punctuated by an interplay between piano and drum. โ€œHip (Eponymous) Poor boyโ€ is an infectious honky tonk melody that continues the foot tapping beat with a driving tempo. โ€œI Guess I Should Go To Sleepโ€ is another opportunity for White to demonstrate his multi-instrumentalist genius for musical syncretism as he moves from one instrument to another including drums. Melodically the song is a takeoff of Huddie Ledbetterโ€™s (Lead Belly) 1933 folk blues roots song โ€œGoodnight Irene.โ€ย  โ€œOn and On and Onโ€ is a vocally rich blend of White with background singers, Ruby Amenfu, Karen Elson and Laura Matula. Whiteโ€™s infatuation with female performers become clear after a brief perusal of his roster, which reverses the normal male dominant configurations. โ€œTake Me With You When You Goโ€ is another vocal blend of harmonies creating a bed of sound for fiddles to complete with keyboards, until it all explodes into an orgasmic stew of sound that leaves one satisfied. Amen.




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