What will Jack White do next? That’s up to him, which is entirely the way it should be. He seems to straddle old and new music business mechanics, record label in place, his music entirely his enjoyment.
The NME feel; ‘Then again, ‘Boarding House Reach’ was one of those benchmark albums that firmly states ‘anything goes from here’, and so it proves.’
Which is why we have reports of 2 Jack White albums this year. Which is why he can release music which confounds in its excellence. This is why this album, ‘Fear Of The Dawn’, is so fuzzily funky.
Yes, fuzzily. This is like Rival Sons’ Scott Holliday turned up to 11. His guitar tone is fuzzy, this one you’ll never get off your clothes. The Guardian says the guitars, ‘provide consistent electro-convulsive jolts as arresting as any in his previous discography’; they’re right.
And the drum beat is a metallic clang not heard by design on a Rock album since Metallica’s ‘St Anger’; it’s both a side issue and an insistence. Although opener ‘Taking Me Back’ pushes and Jack has that almost Preacher delivery, the guitar chattering to us and the title track follows, barrelling along with barriers created by blocks of fuzzy chords, ‘Hi-De-Ho’ is a bastardised Cab Calloway ‘Minnie The Moocher’ moment with a touch of the Morricone’s and Q-Tip singsonging a rap on top of a bouncy, Go! Team backing.
This is not all though, there’s a big dollop of 70’s Radio Rock with ‘Esophobia’ – it even has a reprise, giving some time for the drums and bass to beguile us, but it’s when White wheels a piano into the studio that things change slightly.
That one-note piano prod among the lagging strut of ‘Shedding My Velvet’ and ‘Into The Twilight’ even has an electric piano and guitar duel, whilst a slightly off-kilter 70’s thin synth tickles us in ‘That Was Then, This Is Now.
Unmistakably big, bothersome and bluesy, this collection of songs is Rock, yes, but so much more than that. The guitars are constantly on the verge of feedbacking into the breakdown, the drums and bass seem so simple they can’t be, and the vocals are an almost howl or half rap.
This is a Blues album his way, pushed right to the edge of acceptance. It isn’t an easy listen but it is a bloody good one.
Jack White will do what he likes. And I for one will be listening always.