CD review: Jack White 'Blunderbuss'

CD review: Jack White ‘Blunderbuss'
Published: April 20, 2012
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ROCK

Jack White ‘Blunderbuss' (Third Man/XL/Columbia)

Following half a decade of side projects and the dissolution of the White Stripes, Jack White's “Blunderbuss” is a knockout, a concise and remarkably focused distillation of White's gifts as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and standard-bearer for rock 'n' roll.

From the opening electric piano figure on “Missing Pieces” and the hard-bashing high school drama “Sixteen Saltines,” White is playing entirely to strengths: dispensing with the circumscribed musical format of the White Stripes sets him free to explore his fully realized notions of rock in its classic forms.

From the songwriting structures to the production, “Blunderbuss” feels entirely organic and often bracingly primitive: during a passage of the female rebellion anthem “Freedom at 21,” White rolls his vocals into one stereo channel, as if there were only four tracks at his disposal.

His powerful duet with Ruby Amanfu, “Love Interruption,” powers forward with minimal percussion and a “Son of a Preacher Man”-style keyboard — not much is needed beyond the obvious passion at its core.