Thursday, May 17, 2018

Jack White - Boarding House Reach

Unlike a lot of people, I have never been either a Jack White fanatic nor have I hated the guy. I actually respect a lot of what he has done and, while not loving everything he releases, I tend to enjoy his music. I saw the White Stripes in a small club with a handful of people and thought that they were great, although I still can't quite comprehend how they managed to translate that intimacy to the superstardom that they received. So, while I don't eagerly await his every move, I also am not prejudiced against it just by who he is. That long-winded intro said, this new release is neither great nor terrible.

The opener, "Connected By Love" is a strong, soulful, big production number, with traditional Hammond organ vying with Jack's fairly unique, effected guitar work. The ballad, "Why Walk a Dog?" is another production piece, with ferocious guitars jarring the otherwise mellow vibe, "Corporation" is very funky, reminiscent of cool 70's grooves but with hints of hip-hop while "Abulia and Akrasia" is pretty much an atmospheric piece with White reciting polysyllabic beat poetry (seemingly tongue-in-cheek, but hard to know for sure) over it.

"Hypermisophoniac" is almost a Zappa-esque bit of cool jazz that's pretty hip, "Ice Station Zebra" is Jack doing rap, which means it's far from traditional, but has rhythmic, speaking vocals instead of singing, which "Over and Over and Over" has to a lesser degree, but rocks a bit more but also reminds me a bit of Zappa in some of the instrumental work and some of the backing vocals. "Everything You've Ever Learned" has Jack proselytizing over a track that builds from ambient sounds to percussion passion to intense synthesizer noise. With several drummers and percussionists, "Respect Commander" is rhythm-driven until it breaks down to just synth noodles and then turns into a modern blues number, but with synthesizer solos, as only White would provide!

An odd ballad, "Ezmerelda Steals the Show" follows and then Jack tells a childhood story in "Get in the Mind Shaft" with minimalistic backing that evolves into a mellow, kinda hip-hop-ish track. In a weird way, "What's Done is Done" reminds me of a 50's Marty Robbins, Mexican-themed  country number that evolves into gospel and then turns into something else all together - like I said, weird...It all comes to an end with a Roxy Music-esque piano ballad, "Humoresque".

White isn't likely to ever release anything that is predictable, and we wouldn't want him to, so you never know what you are going to get. I really enjoy some of this, some I think doesn't quite capture me, but all is interesting. I'll be seeing him in concert in a couple of months, so it will be compelling to see how this all translates into a live show.