The White Stripes (RIP), wore their colors with pride and purpose. That was Jack White‘s call, as he’s infatuated with color and symbolism. Some would say everything was White’s call all along. Citing the fact that he had to teach his then wife, Meg White, first how to play drums before throwing her behind a peppermint-colored drum kit that she never really embraced being behind. Jack has been saying otherwise in recent interviews, claiming Meg called many more shots, chiefly the decision to bury the band. Either way, here Jack is, 15 years into his frenetic blues trajectory with a first solo offering named after a loud ass blundering precursor to the shotgun and a brand new color palette: true blue.
So I get into the game but always keep it the same
And I’ll be using your name
But they’ll be yelling at me
Poor boy, poor boy
That’s another change on this record – the keys backbone. If you were expecting, or hoping, for a delta-gnar thrashing of White guitar icon yore, you’re in for merely a tease of power in dedicated bursts here, either underlining a sentiment (“Missing Pieces,” “Weep Themselves to Sleep“) or fanning the flames of an old fashioned feedback burnout. Or both (“Sixteen Saltines,” “Freedom at 21“).
So back to the blue palette and the blunderbuss metaphor. The White Stripes oeuvre, and even side-ventures with The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, all had unifying themes, be it industry attention (White Blood Cells), misfit collaboration (Horehound), or simply the glory of bombastic rock and roll (Consolers of the Lonely). Blunderbuss, with its decaying vindictive lyricism, its rich R&B to near swing and rockabilly textures and wee bit of choir girl kisses, this is White’s quirky, angsty peek into the honest mechanics of how the dude keeps on keepin’ on in innovating, refreshing, often tortured ways. The beauty of the shotgun and how the damn thing blasts, rather.
There are his signature Detroit rock yelps in the beginning to grab your attention, but when the smoke clears, at its core is a song like “Love Interruption,” begging over a sparse acoustic guitar jangle and a hollow Casio walk, the bright lightening bolt of his vocal imprint captured in perfect analogue looking-glass theatre:
I want love to walk right up and bite me
Grab ahold of me and fight me
Leave me dying on the ground
And then swearing “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me anymore.” Threaded of course, always, by the early bones of blues. Is Jack White’s heart-a-aching? No. And Blunderbuss is why.