With his gray-pale skin, scraggly black hair and affinity for wearing old Western suits, by all appearances Jack White could be mistaken for an amalgamation of Tim Burton characters rather than a highly revered rock star.
Everything about White is meticulous and carefully orchestrated – from his fake brother-sister relationship with his White Stripes bandmate, and ex-white, Meg, to his short-lived marriage to a runway model he molded into a folksy country singer, it seems like his personal relationships are all part of some puzzling performance art piece that illustrates the tunes he writes.
Perhaps the public will never know the real motives behind the Jack White celebrity, but all stunts aside, there is no denying the magnetic presence of his music on modern radio waves. White has been praised for his exceptional guitar playing, but it is his collaboration with some of yesterday and today's musical greats that has launched his success and earned him a comfortable place as a king of cool modern rock.
After spending more than a decade rising from garage band obscurity to worldwide success as the front man of The White Stripes, White formed The Raconteurs, a Detroit-based supergroup of modern rock stars. He then teamed up with Alison Mosshart of The Kills to form Dead Weather, a sexy psychedelic quartet that more or less marked the final days of The White Stripes. Each project White tackled resulted in incredible success and heavy airplay. It was clear White had become an important figurehead for music of the new millennium.
This year, White made it a goal to write, record and produce his very first solo album, titled “Blunderbuss,” which debuted April 24. The public got a preview of two new tracks, “Love Interruption” and “Sixteen Saltines,” which White played on the “Saturday Night Live” stage back in March. The performances were typical Jack White productions – carefully orchestrated, eclectic and shrouded in that weird air of mystery that surrounds White every time he hops on stage.
“Blunderbuss” itself is quintessential Jack White in every facet – from his distinct voice, crystal clear guitar chords to his childlike lyrics and old country influences. “Love Interruption” is the album's standout track, with simple, repetitive lyrics common in White's signature songwriting formula and the soulful Ruby Amanfu's whimpering backup vocals. The album is pure rock and roll without the shredding guitar solos and distorted macho bass typical of today's modern rock.
Though White is the obvious ringleader of every musical project he tackles, “Blunderbuss” is White at his most pure and exploratory. With the introduction of choir girls singing backups in bluesy tracks like “I'm Shakin'” and the melodic piano featured heavily in “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” it's clear White has a vast knowledge of the music he loves and knows exactly what he wants to create.
“Blunderbuss” is a collage of Dixieland, bluegrass, '60s soul and loud 2000s garage rock pasted together in a precise and unique little package. This isn't a White Stripes album, and it's too whimsical to be a Dead Weather or Raconteurs production. It's simply Jack White as Jack White moving on to the next chapter in his vast book of music. White is a musician who wears many hats, and it's still too soon to tell which one he will pull out to represent this phase in his career. Rest assured, it will be weird, it will be vintage and it will be extraordinarily intriguing.
Top 5 Jack White Songs: