Jack White’s most recent recording effort, Boarding House Reach (2018), seamlessly blends the sounds that White has honed over his long career, while also breaking new ground for the tenured artist.
The result: another classic piece for White’s already impressive discography.
Most might know White for his most successful duet, The White Stripes, which has been a big influence on his solo work since the band dissolved in 2011.
The new record, released late last month, pairs the garage and blues-inspired rock which made White famous with a more electric, alien-sounding synthesizer, expanded from its use on White’s last effort, Lazaretto.
In fact, I would say the entire album has the space rock feel of a Steve Miller album, and the use of the instruments is reminiscent of some of Michael Jackson's earlier work, which White cited as an influence on the writing process of the album.
This sound White has achieved allows for expanded musical possibilities that the classic duet of drums and guitar simply can’t reach, and for the most part, White’s lyrics are strong enough to keep pace with the powerful instrumentation.
The opening track on the record, Connected By Love, is the introduction to this sound, and while I was not fond of the track on my initial listen, as I listened to the song more I found it nearly impossible not to tap a foot or sing along to the powerful, gospel-inspired vocalizations.
Moving down the tracklist, the manufactured beat of song five, Hypermisophoniac, serves as a clunky, but sufficient building block to a smooth guitar and piano duet.
The first, and only, song on the album that I did not like was the fourth single, Ice Station Zebra.
White tries to blend his trademark blues-rock style with Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque rap-rock, which came off as more awkward than enjoyable, in spite of the songs strong use of instruments.
Track nine, Respect Commander, uses a rapidly ascending guitar riff to get its hooks into the listener, before transitioning into a slower, classic blues inspired electronic ballad with White’s guitar work shining through in a powerful solo that earned the song a permanent place in my Spotify playlist.
Get In the Mind Shaft opens with a dreamy tale from White, telling a story of a young White finding a piano in an abandoned building.
This moves into a funky song that once again uses a powerful chorus that would fit in at a disco or a party dance floor.
The tracks ending sends the listener to space using more of the synthesizer paired with vocal manipulation, before pulling you back to earth with the choral singing with the electronica, in a way reminiscent of Gorillaz’ second album, Demon Days, to great success.
Finally, the closing song sends the listeners home happy, and if any aspiring musicians need an example of how to properly end an album, Humoresque will deliver.
The whimsical piano paired with the gentle acoustic guitar riff is a perfect way to epilogue the album.
While this album is a great addition to the resume of Jack White, I wouldn’t put it at the same heights as his previous release, Lazaretto, but this album is almost entirely highlights of a very skilled storyteller.
I would recommend this album to any listener who is familiar with White already, but perhaps the album is not the most accessible for the first time listener since it is much more experimental than his past work.