So here he is, Jack White all on his lonesome. No more Meg or Raconteurs to deflect attention, this is Jack’s show, and Jack’s show alone- but anyone expecting the new found freedom to kick off a major stylistic switch is going to be disappointed- let’s face it though- no one was expecting a switch, were they...? The self proclaimed good ol’ boy has spent years honing his ramshackle analogue blues, almost to the point where you doubt he could record anything else. Blunderbuss has all the usual signposts—dusty slide guitar, warm valve amped production, big Southern gospel chord structures and yelped vocal contortions. The big difference, call it innovation if you want, on this album is the foregrounding of keyboards—piano and organ filling the songs with a bar room reel, honkytonk music for whiskey slinging showdowns.
In a career of highs, White has set himself an unenviable task every time he releases a record. Where’s the 7 Nation Army? Where’s the Hotel Yorba? It’s impossible not to scour the record for a shot of that genius that the man is capable of, those 3 minute explosions of raw, euphoric power he has ignited again and again. But whilst I’m Shakin’ is a satisfyingly cheeky rock n’ soul foot tapper, Sixteen Saltines his obligatory balls out guitar thrasher and Trash Tongue Talker steals cocksure country blues back from Exile on Main Street era Stones, none of it ever hits the giddy heights of the White Stripes truly sublime moments. That’s not to say the record isn’t decent... An average album from Jack White is still worth a million other strummers’ entire collections- but it’s finest work probably lies in it’s quieter songs, the delicate Love Interruption, and the waltzing, fiddle laced title track.
Ultimately, whilst the indifferent are probably going to remain so, for fans, Blunderbuss is a worthy addition to White’s formidible canon.