Mack: White’s solo effort worth the waitWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
Jack White, “Blunderbuss”
It’s hard to believe Jack White has been around so long without doing a solo album. It was well worth the wait. I don’t know what “Blunderbuss” means, but the music is so good that I don’t particularly care (for those curious, a quick Google search revealed it is a type of firearm).
The timing of the album is ironic. The songs about heartbreak and resentment seem like the perfect fit for someone fresh off a divorce, but his divorce from Karen Elson was amicable and the lyrics have nothing to do with her.
White has the perfect voice for angst-ridden rock. You won’t find him belting out too many love ballads, but he could produce album after album of solo-filled breakup anthems without growing stale.
He experiments with different styles, such as the crackling guitar solo on “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” which pairs brilliantly with the jazzy piano backing. Piano is used heavily throughout the album, and Brooke Waggoner rocks almost as hard on the keys as White does on guitar. White touches on more genres than ever before on “Blunderbuss.” You can hear influences from past projects such as “The White Stripes” as he touches on country, jazz and most commonly the blues.
“Blunderbuss” is solid from top to bottom and manages to exceed the lofty expectations for White’s solo debut.
***** out of 5
ALO, “Sounds Like This”
ALO, short for Animal Liberation Orchestra, will never be accused of growing stale. The band’s sound is constantly evolving and has never been quite the same from album to album. While it continues to evolve, it is somewhat back to its jam band roots just in time to hit the festival circuit, including a stop at Bonnaroo in June.
The band touches on this in the album’s closing track “Reviews (From Here to Zed)” with lyrics like “Read the reviews of your latest record. Seems you made some people irate. Accused you of being lost in the woods, and having forgotten what once made you great.”
Lead singer Zach Gil has never received radio play with ALO like he does with Jack Johnson, but the band is more concerned with appeasing its fans than pandering for commercial success. That hasn’t changed on “Sounds Like This,” with only two tracks clocking in at under five minutes. With rare exceptions like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Free Bird,” songs that long don’t make it to the radio.
At 3:53, “Bark of a Tree” is the second shortest song on the album but also the catchiest. It starts out like classic Stevie Wonder ‘70s funk, heavy on the bass, organ and guitar riffs.
The longest song on the album at 9:26, “Room For Bloomin’,” touches on ALO’s inner-Phish with up-tempo instrumental jams but also much more singing.
The guitar riff on “Combat Zone” could easily be mistaken for Keith Richards, sounding like it was pulled straight off a Rolling Stones album.
“Sounds Like This” doesn’t quite reach the heights of the band’s sophomore release, “Roses & Clover,” but it’s close. The tracks are the perfect material for a summer tour.
**** out of 5