Jack White’s new album unusually truthful

Francie Johnson

Jack White is no stranger to lying. In early interviews with The White Stripes, the eccentric blues-rock band made up of White and ex-wife Meg White, he repeatedly insisted that the two bandmates were siblings, rather than former lovers (it would be years after the Detroit Free Press uncovered copies of both their marriage license and divorce certificate in 2001 before he would finally come clean and admit to their past as a married couple).

White’s new album, “Blunderbuss,” however, combats the notion of truth head-on, resulting in a twisted, often cryptic admission of vulnerability that, despite its painstaking honesty, still manages to maintain a front of ambiguity.

For years before the release of this new album, Jack White refused to embark on a solo career, partially because he knew it was what everyone expected of him. Instead, White focused his energy on three different bands: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Dead Weather.

However, the year 2011 brought forth many changes for White. The White Stripes officially called it quits in February, and White divorced his second wife, British model Karen Elson, in June 2011. Less than a year later, on April 24, 2012, White released “Blunderbuss, with the influence of these two events ever-present in the album’s core.

Musically, “Blunderbuss” sounds like it could be another White Stripes album – influences of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and 1960s and 70s blues-rock ooze from virtually every song. The heavy, hard-hitting guitar riffs on the track “Sixteen Saltines” conjure memories of The White Stripes classic “Blue Orchid.”

What sets this new album apart, though, are the intensely introspective lyrics, dissecting White’s personal relationship with love in ways that render the listener speechless. In “Love Interruption,” the album’s first single, White sings, “I want love/To roll me over slowly/Stick a knife inside me/And twist it all around,” personifying love as a violent force that rips victims apart from the inside out.

White continues to explore the concept of love and relationships throughout the album, with lyrics such as, “And when they tell you that they just can’t live without you/They ain’t lyin’, they’ll take pieces of you/And they’ll stand above you and walk away,” from the album’s opening track, “Missing Pieces.” On other tracks, such as “Freedom at 21,” White takes on an angrier tone, singing, “She don’t care what kind of wounds she’s inflicted on me/She don’t care what color bruises that she’s leavin’ on me.”

White’s lyrics, though insightful and thought-provoking, are vague and ambiguous enough to put a comfortable amount of distance between himself and his audience.

“Blunderbuss” is like a letter left out in the rain, soaking wet, with ink running down the page. Everything is plainly written out, yet the words have bled together and are impossible to read. Their meaning stares you directly in the face, but you may never truly understand it.

Ambiguity is a game Jack White loves to play, and he’s quite the expert at it. Overall, “Blunderbuss” is some of White’s best work, and hopefully, this is only the beginning of his long-anticipated solo career.