Top positive review
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As a stand alone project, it's one of his best and most eclectic...
on June 10, 2014
Once again Jack White, lover of blues, funk, soul, and good old fashioned rock and roll, has dipped into his bag of inventiveness and has created an album more eclectic than his 2012 release "Blunderbuss." It's taken him a year and a half to make it, and if the rumors are true it is said he destroyed the original versions and started from scratch.
In interviews he has said the lyrics were inspired by old stories and writings from his 13 year old self. He said some of it was laughable, but I listened, because... it's who he is and not what he does, at least not that much. He's a truly independent artist, and rarely asks for anyone's help, unless he's recording in digital, which is NOT what he does. You DO know Jack records strictly in analog (on two old 8-track recorders), because "it just sounds more real."
Here's my 30 second gut review of each song - the album is only 39 minutes long...
01 - Three Women - 1972 called but is FINE with you re-creating their sound, fuzzy guitars and dirty soul organ grinding and all, about his love for the number one subject of every rock and roll teen boy playing his guitar - times three!
02 - Lazaretto - I like this song, not just because it's an instant guitar player's classic, but the music and lyrics are top notch and reminds us why we like Jack and his unique sound - he's everywhere on this single and it shows. From Catholic rites to Jack Chick religious tracts and several philosophers, he circles the globe in your mind.
03 - Temporary Ground - this duet with Nashville artist Lillie Mae Rische (who also play a little fiddle) takes you on a ride around the block to the country side of his world, and it's it's pretty good.
04 - Would You Fight For My Love - channeling his best Neil Young, he weaves a wonderful tale of love - and asking her to fight for it. Guitars play out his pain in this wonderful low-key stunner.
05 - High Stepper Ball - this song - an amazing bit of instrumental riffing - was our first taste of the album to come, and I have to say it again - the grinding guitars are amazing. I really do dare anyone around his age to create this kind of virtuosity and sell it like only Jack can.
06 - Just One Drink - this reminds me so much of some 1973 Rolling Stones stuff, a lost track from the "Exile on Main Street" sessions. Simply great.
07 - Alone In My Home - (the beginning sounded so familiar, then it caught me - "Romeo's Tune" by Steve Forbert, 1979. 1979???) Another duet with Rische, and you can feel the wonderful analog-ness along with the great lyrics. He's almost daring the listener to understand him as he fades away...
08 - That Black Licorice Bat - vocalist Ruby Amanfu (from his all-female backup band The Peacocks) helps through his vocal attack on this hands-down rocker, and Jack has stated as much on NPR that it was "I really put in the album of my own personality".
09 - Entitlement - his deep Catholic background is present here, a song about paying Caesar what is due, paying pennance, apathy, and "being tired of being told what to do." It's like a really really ironic country-rock version of "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against The Machine. Strange, but very truthful. Will the message get through?
10 - I Think I Found The Culprit - with the six-string of Dean Fertita present and almost dominating the song, Jack takes us once again into his flighty world as his mirror is reflected towards his overall self - and the guilt that he's taking away by looking too long. Are the "birds of a feather" lyrics refrencing himself? Only the piano knows.
11 - Want And Able - Speaking of birds... this song is a complete Jack White production, dubbing and singing and all of it. This is part two of a "song trilogy," part one being the song "Effect and Cause" from his 2007 White Stripes album "Icky Thump." From the lyrics, it's biblical in tone, being this time the forces of good and bad at war with even themselves, represented by Cain and Able... I mean, Want and Able. It plays like a light bit of fluff, but the odd serousness and playfulness only shows Jack refusing to submit to his demons or his needs or happiness.
(on the wax album, there is a TON of extras - b-sides, hidden tracks, hidden speeds, and more. Maybe that's why it's selling for so almost thirty dollars?)
In the end, I have to give this inventive, creative, indulgent yet spirited production 5 heathly stars.
You've got to pick up a copy of this, really. Jack White is one of the more subtle (but also at the same time overt) leaders in alternative music today, and he re-invents himself with every new record with more and more audio tricks on every track. Not very many can do that but still stay SERIOUSLY grounded to who he is - a rocker with a conscience, and an obvious dual genius method/guilt complex that would bring down an elephant.
Pick up your copy today, and enjoy!
(thanks for reading, and please don't forget to vote whether you like what I wrote or not - and don't forget to check out my other reviews right here on Amazon!)