Sound — 8
There is a point in a musician's career where they have adapted and perfected a certain sound to the point that they can instantly be recognized by that tone or style of play. Jack White's debut solo album, "Blunderbuss", is exactly what one would come to expect from having listened to any of his previous band work. Blunderbuss is a soulful album that incorporates a mixture of garage rock, bluegrass, and country all in a way that allows the album to flow seamlessly. Songs like "Sixteen Saltines" and "Freedom At 21" are packed with energetic Detroit garage rock riffs, which White made popular in the late 90's. The riffs are simple, yet inspired and catchy. The warm tone of the guitar relaxes the listener, as they get lost in White's groove. The album loses its energy with songs like "Love Interruption" and "I Guess I Should Go To Sleep" as the piano is the dominant instrument. The piano acts as a lead in these songs while a faint clean guitar provides rhythm. White shows his impressive musicianship as he arranges the piano composition so well that you can get lost in its flow. White shows his cross-genre skills in songs like "On And On And On", and the title track "Blunderbuss". These songs have a country western vibe. Pedal steels and fiddles are added and the chorus swells while the bridges are simply hypnotizing; just Jack and the piano.
Lyrics — 6
Blunderbuss was a great playground for White to showcase his ability to manipulate songs through vocals. He harmonizes his own voice often throughout the album but can especially be heard in certain songs like "Missing Pieces" and "Sixteen Saltines". The harmonization sounds a little off in "Sixteen Saltines" but that is easily overlooked. White's liveliness is heard in songs where he shouts, hollers, and adds vibrato such as "Freedom At 21". In other songs, White sings duets with a lovely singer by the name of Ruby Amanfu. The duet in "Love Interruption" is chilling, especially when done a capella. In that song, White also controls the mood by the inflection in his voice, raising it to get emotional and then taming himself to slow the song down. In "Weep Themselves To Sleep", the effect over White's voice was an interesting choice to make because it neither added nor took away from the song. It made me wonder why it was even necessary. Songs like "Trash Tongue Talker" and "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" show what a great job White does at control a rhythm with just his voice. His vocals prove to be powerful, lively, and bouncy. As far as lyrics, White's lyrics are the most unique thing about this album. His inspiration for them are everyday situations mostly covering falling in love or being hurt by love. Some songs are about life in general such as "Missing Pieces": "How long is life supposed to be? /Would it kill you to wait so long? /One day mysterious, one day perfect, one day gone." This album has its share of earworm lyrics. Ranging from "Sixteen Saltines" one line, "Who's jealous, who's jealous who's jealous, who's jealous of who?" to "Love Interruption"'s "I won't let love disrupt, corrupt/Or interrupt me." These lyrics will be stuck in your head long after they've been played.
Overall Impression — 8
"Blunderbuss" is a solid, yet expected hit from Jack White. It didn't break any new territory that hasn't been covered before by him. If anything, it sadly showed how replaceable Meg White is. If I had not known anything about this album, I could have easily mistaken it for another White Stripes album. In a positive note, "Blunderbuss" demonstrated how talented Jack White is as a musician. He smoothly orchestrated the album. It started off energetic and although it slowed pace, it really had catchy songs throughout. Although White Stripes are broken up, this album was a fine substitution instead.