Blunderbuss 4/5 Ego to a true rock star is like spinach to Popeye. Without it, he’s just some guy in weird clothes. After being in one of the defining bands of the past decade, however, Jack White has kept his own ego tightly canned. He’s eased so successfully into the shadows as a member (not leader) of bands such as The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather that he could have snuck out this debut solo album quietly and with little fanfare.
Thankfully he hasn’t. A rock star has been reunited with his ego, and he’s made an album every bit as big and heroic to match. More White Album than White Stripes, Jack and his mostly female cast of session players are on incredible form. When rocking out on songs like ‘Sixteen Saltines’, he retains what made the Stripes so special – the ability to make both a heaving indie club and a curmudgeonly rock purist giddy.
What makes Blunderbuss such a joy, though, is how many wonderful new shades of White there are, and none of them magnolia bland. There’s the waltz-time, Van Morrison charm of ‘Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy’, the George Harrison-esque ‘On and On and On’, or the romantic Nashville lilt of the title tune. Add in a paean to Chuck Berry (‘Trash Tongue Talker’) and a trace of hip-hop (‘Freedom at 21’) and you have a real smorgasbord.
Nothing quite tops ‘Love Interruption’ though – an acoustic aspiration that features Acker Bilk-style clarinet and no drums. It’s a brave move to make your best song so stark, but bravery is what being a hero is all about.