FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012 |
Posted by: Joe Puglisi
Jack White's first solo effort finds the blues pragmatist drinking his own kool-aid, with very enjoyable results. White's Third Man dogma seems firmly rooted in pop culture nuggets-- singles with popular comedians like Conan and Colbert, pairing JEFF the Brotherhood with ICP, wacky production values and innovative vinyl products, the list goes on-- and the strategy has proven a resounding success. The brand of Third Man Records is strong, so what should we have expected from its CEO? A flop? White established his prowess as a musician way back during his time in The White Stripes, and each successful project following the duo has only strengthened his own chops. As the head of a marketing machine, he is smart and sly and a bit Wonka-esque-- but as a musician, he's humanized, and that's a good thing.
Blunderbuss is full of White-sian lyricism and the sticky odd-riffs we've come to expect and enjoy. White seems to be attempting to write an album of classics, and I'd argue he succeeds, but only with the caveat that they are instant classics within the Jack White framework; the iconic voice meshes seamlessly with the blue-sy riffs to create some that is both refreshing and feels like it's always been on our shelves, waiting to be spun. From the sparkplug "Sixteen Saltines" to the water-jug channeling "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy," White's songwriting seems to traverse several modes of focus-- high energy, classic sounding, progressive, retro-- all while maintaining the pinch of weird that gives his music its unique appeal. The word "derivative" never seems to come to mind, despite it being probably the most obvious adjective to assign to White's preoccupations here. That alone is a resounding success.