Blunderbuss

What happens when someone like Jack White finds himself without a band? This is a pretty interesting question. The guy has been in bands, usually multiple ones simultaneously, for about two decades now. A lot of highly talented charismatic musicians would have wanted to go solo a long time ago, but it seems to not come so naturally with Mr. White. He clearly must love something about being in a band. Is it the camaraderie? Is it that, to at least some small degree, he can then share the limelight? It would seem at first glance that this solo thing doesn’t sit well with him. Even in a recent New York Times profile he admitted that if it were up to him he would still be going full steam ahead with The White Stripes. He seems a little hurt and confused that Meg, his former bandmate, doesn’t share in this desire any longer. Therefore, it seems this solo thing might at least partially be out of necessity. If it’s any consolation, Jack, it seems that you are extremely good at it.

Yes, the combination of his recent divorce from Karen Elson and the current distance between Meg White and himself is all over this release. Right from the first track, “Missing Pieces”, he details losing appendages and feeling lost. “Sometimes someone controls everything about you/ …they’ll take pieces of you / And they’ll stand above you and walk away”. The song “Love Interruption” has a refrain that almost works as a mantra. “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me”. It seems White’s determined to enjoy love, but no longer let it leave him emotionally destroyed. Please do not think that this release is a real downer, though. Jack White seems to be fully aware that you can sing about pain while matching it with upbeat melodies. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”, seems to lyrically have some incredibly harsh bite, but musically is about the most pleasant and happy thing he’s ever done. It all adds up to some of the strongest songwriting we have yet to experience from Jack.

White is easily one of the most intriguing and compelling rock stars so far this century. One might say that it’s an easy label to achieve with the lack of true rock stars these days. Anymore we find potential specimens, dissect them, swallow them, and almost always cast them aside within a few months. However, it seems White keeps sticking around. This is not an accident. It’s because he keeps giving us something different to examine.

- Andy Cook
Tuesday night "Block Party" host