Jack White has proven that he can do a lot with a little. That's what The White Stripes were all about: Jack on vocals and guitar, Meg on drums and that's it.
In the late '90s-early 2000s, this back-to-basics approach was very refreshing (for those who remember, pop rock was a disheartening waste land, filled with bands that wanted to be Limp Bizkit) and the duo did it really well. Like the Violent Femmes and the Pixies in the '80s, The White Stripes convincingly reinvented the wheel, rebuilding rock 'n' roll from the ground up (See the big three: "De Stijl," "White Blood Cells" and "Elephant.")
But since he's tossed the restraints, White still hasn't figured out what to do with all these shiny toys.
Jack White is seen in a promotional image for his first solo CD, “Blunderbuss,” which was released Tuesday.
The biggest problem is that he's still composing the same way that he did when he was only writing for two instruments, rendering everything else like bells and whistles. He needs to forget about the "Little Room" and write for the big one.
There's just, simply, sadly, nothing interesting going on. The first song, "Missing Pieces," features an unearned piano solo, words that don't stick and White singing in a register that is just too high. He's consistently done this since his time with The Raconteurs - especially with The Dead Weather - and it's working less and less. Where did the commanding voice that sang "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" go? White needs to slow down and deliver his words with intention rather than rambling them into oblivion.
Plus, his poetic eye has gotten cataracts with blinding speed. I had to remind myself that this is the same guy who wrote the lovely "We're Gonna Be Friends."
"Sixteen Saltines" rocks for sure but that's all, and it rocks in a very standard way. The song features a good, charged riff but White lets it stand alone, robbing it of its potential. Why does this sound good to him? The only reason I can come up with is that he likes listening to the sound of his nasally voice too much. The vocals are reminiscent of "Blue Orchid" from "Get Behind Me Satan," but that was a far superior song.
By the middle of the album, I couldn't wait for it to stop.
But I hung on and "Blunderbuss" does show some life on the second half. "Trash Tongue Talker" is full of fun attitude and bluesy swagger and "Take Me with You When You Go" has nice padded vocals, with White singing multiple parts.
But it's not enough to make up for pop slop like "Love Interruption."
I would steer clear of this one. It's only for the diehards to be disappointed by.
DOWNLOAD NOW: "Trash Tongue Talker," "Take Me with You. .When You Go"