Monday, December 31, 2012


It is probably no surprise that Jack White's debut solo album, Blunderbuss, placed so high on my Best of 2012 list.

Why did he finally do a solo record?  I think that this is his "divorce" album. I don't generally look too deeply into lives of artists, but this one was hard to miss:  Jack and Karen Elson sent out invitations to their 6 anniversary/divorce party.  So while it seems amicable, I'd imagine that every divorce has it's pain and that pain comes out in this album (which Elson provides backing vocals on, by the way).

Although he's the spotlight of every project he works on, I think he sees his bandmates as peers and friends.  I think that this time around, he'd rather just hire musicians, and not explain the songs.

Jack White being Jack White, his story is that he'd set up a session at Third Man Studios with The RZA; RZA didn't show up, and Jack started bashing out songs with the musicians that he hired.  But these songs don't sound like they were just cranked out on the spot.

The tour was really interesting:  he had an all-male band, and an all-female band, and each morning he'd announce who would get to play.  It's amazing that he still can manage to have some weird mystique to what he's doing, all these years after he started.  And that he'd go to such far lengths to bother to do so.  It was fun to hear him play White Stripes songs again (although a full band didn't seem to make up for Meg White missing), and cool to hear different takes on his Raconteurs and Dead Weather songs.

Anyway, the album is a classic: pretty much every song works.  A lot of them sound like they could maybe fit into his other bands.  "Hypocritical Kiss" and "Sixteen Saltines" remind me of The White Stripes for sure. I would love to hear Alison Mosshart singing "Freedom At 21."   "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" reminds me of The Raconteurs.  But they still have a fresh, different sound.  In the 2010's, I don't know any other artists who are this consistent, and this interesting.

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