It seems a bit bizarre to be calling this Jack White’s debut album, really. The prolific musician has released albums under the guise of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, plus written and recorded with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Beck, Bob Dylan…the list continues. This is, however, his first outing with just his name on the album cover.
Blunderbuss is angry. It’s a bloodbath with violent imagery at every turn, in Love Interruption he tells us to “…roll me over slowly/ stick a knife inside me/ and twist it all around…“.By the end of the track, he’s crushed and bruised all over, a result of having his fingers slammed in a door, face ground in the dirt, bitten, deafened, and his mother murdered. Brutal lyrics for what is quite a laidback alt-country tune, hammond organ tinkling in the background of a plainly strummed guitar.
Before we get to the beating however, we are led through the rock-soul of Missing Pieces, the ravenous garage- punk of standout track Sixteen Saltines, and the scattered beats and the not-so-subtle-references-to-ex-wife lyrics of Freedom at 21.
By the time the title track rolls around we’re in need of a break, and it delivers a Nashville- soaked country tune of pedal-steel and soft piano licks. All kinds of instruments are sprinkled through these tracks, a showcase of White’s expansive musical interests.
The middle slows it down a little with the soft rock of Hypocritical Kiss , but things get moving again with the vintage cover of Little Willie John’s I’m Shakin’ , the crunchy riff powering the jiving groove. Another throwback track is the 60’s funk sound of Tongue Trash Talker.
The ending fades away slightly, probably because the first half of the record is so brilliant that now the good tracks pale in comparison. It’s a broad car ride through his favourite musical towns, a rough speeding drive that threatens to kill us all but White keeps most of the damage for himself. His penchant for punishment his clear. A bloody and brilliant album.