White indulges his rootsy side, venturing into country, gospel and blues

By PEOPLE Music Critic Chuck Arnold
Updated April 27, 2012 07:00 AM
Credit: Nasty Little Man

Performing solo just never seemed to be Jack White’s thing.

In his years leading the White Stripes before they disbanded in 2011, you always got the sense that they were a duo more for appearance’s sake – just because he liked it that way – than a real creative partnership. (Sorry, Meg.) Even when he did side projects, he chose to work in other bands (the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather) and produce other artists (from Loretta Lynn to Wanda Jackson).

With Blunderbuss, though, White finally earns his solo stripes.

The album doesn’t represent a radical departure – from thumping garage rock (“Sixteen Saltines”) to groovy psychedelia (“Missing Pieces”), you can hear echoes of his past work – but it doesn’t need to be, given all he’s done. He gets to indulge his rootsy side, venturing into country on the wistful title track, gospel on the shimmying “I’m Shakin'” and blues all over.

And he gets strong support from Ruby Amanfu on background vocals and Brooke Waggoner on keys, proving that White can still play well with others.

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