Review: Boarding House Reach by Jack White

Boarding House Reach by Jack WhiteJack White’s earned the right to indulge a bit, to do what he wants. The kicker, of course, is that he ought to still deliver those tunes. That promise has proven enough to carry him through his many phases and experiments, his solo work and his many bands; we understood the underlying principles of his work, and he mostly delivered, or we were patient enough to stick around. Boarding House Reach fails. All right, so it’s still definitely adventurous, and if you listen closely it’s really still a Jack White record. But it is devoid of artistic definition. It’s not sure what it wants to use to convey his gutsiness. I don’t even think this is adventurous as much as it is desperate. The styles are all over the place. There’s rapping, there’s a bit of parlor music, there’s a lot of obvious pastiches of old-timey styles. The approaches don’t really gel together, or even make you think it’s going to work. (“Connected by Love”, the lead single, comes close, as a single should, but it isn’t really memorable.) I cannot be patient for Jack White being this indulgent and this all over the place. Next. [NB]2/5

Review: Lazaretto by Jack White

Lazaretto by Jack WhiteJack White’s second solo album is pretty much a departure from Blunderbuss. He still has this knack for a rowdy blues stomper, but it’s no longer the filthy kind he’s espoused in all the bands he was in. Lazaretto sounds a bit more modern, a bit more polished, a bit cleaner; at the same time, it feels even more old-fashioned than his previous record. You lose some and you gain some, but the experience remains unchanged: a satisfying record full of riffs on the blues of the early to mid-20th century that he’s loved so. It’s chunky, perhaps too much at some points, but you learn to overlook that with the details: the prominent organs, the presence of singer Ruby Amanfu in many critical points, and Jack’s distinctive vocal style, at times angry and excited, but promising all throughout. Lazaretto slowly reveals itself, and soon it just gets oh so delicious. [NB] | 4/5

Review: Blunderbuss by Jack White

"Blunderbuss" by Jack WhiteJack White’s done many things in his musical lifetime, and now he’s gone solo, something seems missing. Not that I’m dismissing Blunderbuss outright: it’s a fun romp through the former Stripe’s many influences, from 60s blues to 70s garage rock and everything in between. The best bit is White’s oozing confidence in every track; he’s doing the very thing I wanted Alabama Shakes to do – sound like they’re really enjoying themselves. While I admit I’m looking for more “Sixteen Saltines”-like rocking, standout tracks “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”, “Missing Pieces” and his cover of “I’m Shakin'” made me forget that he’s not going to stomp his feet any time soon… but hopefully soon. | 4/5