Jack White has finally oficially gone solo, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. With his divorce from Karen Elson and the White Stripes splitting in 2011, it was wise for White to find his center. Blunderbuss is fueled by self-examination and flavored with obscure imagery, deep blues and country-western roots.
“Love Interruption,” the first single off Blunderbuss, announces White’s commitment to music rather than romance. Gospel-style vocals, featuring Ruby Amanfu, declare, “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me anymore.” Violent, hyperbolic metaphors twist around a keyboard bassoon. Lyrical images include killing mothers, slamming fingers and twisting knives inside bodies. Although the representations of romance are gruesome, White and Elson have maintained a friendly relationship, and she sings backup for three tracks on the album. The message seems to be less a denouncement of love and more of a refocusing of love.
Keeping in mind that White is more a conceptual artist than a confessionalist, he carries these overly exaggerated messages about women and love into other tracks, including the single “Freedom at 21.” In this song, White tries to convey that women with 21st-century rights often mistreat men. The lyrics equate women’s treatment of him to cutting off the bottoms of his feet and making him walk on salt. White plays his guitar more heavily on this track than he does on the rest of the album; for most of these songs he plays the piano instead.
The title track carries a country-western style tune on the piano. It’s fitting for a song named after an old-fashioned firearm. Lyrics spin the story of two lovers in an affair.
Although much of the album makes White seem like a romantic, other songs such as “(Hip) Eponymous Poor Boy” show more of his strengths. This upbeat ragtime tune, on which he plays piano, says that he laughs at the lazy. He also says that he’ll “be singing the blues” and then he’ll “get rich singing poor boy.” And Jack White has done just that.