Jack White's "Blunderbuss" and Subsequent Tour
Jack White’s newest material has traveled a long way from his days with The White Stripes. The rock and roll Jack-of-all-trades has held music lovers captive for over a decade, with a combination of tremendous musical virtuosity, onstage charisma, and impenetrable mystery. It is therefore unsurprising that fans couldn’t wait to get their hands on Blunderbuss, the very first solo album of White’s career.
Who is Jack White?
Detroit-born John Anthony Gillis spent a large portion of his teenage years holed up in the attic listening to old records by the likes of Bob Dylan, Blind Willie McTell, and Delta blues pioneer Son House. These influences have been reincarnated into the music of The White Stripes, as well as his other projects, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.
Despite his colossal success, shockingly little has been revealed about White’s background. As solo albums tend to be revelatory by nature, White’s fans have long been anxious to hear the beloved musician bare himself through Blunderbuss.
Whether their wait has been rewarded is an easy topic of debate. In typical White-style, White infuses dark lyrical content into a vessel of playful, bluesy instrumentation. He shrouds his lyrics’ solemnity, making them vague enough to be distorted. In some cases, meaning can be attached contextually.
Take for instance, the pithy “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy.” The song has some fairly apparent allusions to the breakup of The White Stripes and former bandmate Meg White: “And you'll be watching me girl, takin' over the world / Let the stripes unfurl, gettin' rich singin' ‘poor boy.’”
Other songs, like “On and On and On,” express a melancholy frustration with his own identity, seeing himself alternately through the audience’s eyes and in the mirror represented on the album’s sleeve. His voice hushes intensely as he sings, “The people around me won't let me / Become what I need to, they want me the same / I look at myself and I want to / Just cover my eyes and give myself a new name.” If fans were looking to delve deeper into the rock idol’s psyche, the album delivers more than, say, White Blood Cells, with its punchy, upbeat liveliness.
Still, White continues his trend of using energetic instrumentation to offset lyrical gloom. Unlike albums by the Stripes’, Blunderbuss boasts a whole heap of instruments besides drums and guitar. Piano, bass, clarinet, mandolin, Wurlitzer organ, fiddle, tambourine, and even maracas made it onto the thirteen tracks.
“Hypocritical Kiss” and the title song are some of the best examples. Die-hard Jack White fans will be pleased too, as the album still has ample heavier rock tunes, like “Sixteen Saltines” and “Freedom At 21.” In case you were worried, “I’m Shakin” provides the indispensable serving of blues always present in Jack’s work. The song was originally written by Rudy Toombs and sung by Little Willie John in the sixties.
White and his two backing bands will be touring throughout the west coast and Europe in the wake of Blunderbuss’s release. He’ll be hitting Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco, then jetting off to Spain, France, Belgium, and other European locales, before finishing up in New York, Austin, and New Orleans. White will be joined for multiple shows by Lanie Lane and Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three.
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