A mix of hip-hop and rock makes this his most experimental album yet
It’s fair to say that Detroit rocker, Jack White has come a long way since his White Stripes days, but he has always firmly stuck to his roots in Blues and Rock music, that is of course, until now.
White’s new album, ‘Boarding House Reach’ has been long awaited by fans, and when it came out on Friday (23rd March 2018), it delivered something that fans really weren’t expecting. White has taken a new approach, and has made his music slightly more mainstream than usual. With synth overload, hip-hop rhythms, and rapped lyrics, White has managed to take his roots, and modernise them in a way that has kept fans interested.
The first taste of the new album came in December 2017, when a compilation of all songs on the album was released, and straight away fans went crazy. In the next few months, White slowly teased the album, releasing ‘Connected By Love’, ‘Respect Commander’ and ‘Over and Over and Over’. White also announced ‘Vault Package #31’ which gave fans the opportunity to get the only limited edition version of the album, which consisted of a special album cover, vinyl, as well as demo singles of two album tracks, and some limited edition inserts. These ‘Vault Packages’ were available to Vault Members only, and sold out fairly quickly. Not only did the announcement of the album result in the announcement of a Vault Package, but it also involved a tour. The announcement of the tour got fans all over the world eager for the dates to be announced, as it was his first in nearly 4 years. As per usual though, White kept the majority of the tour in America, with their only being 3 UK tour dates announced, all of which were in London.
Back to the album itself however. It may not be what fans of the Rock legend are used to, but after listening to it a few times, it grows on you. It has everything Jack White has ever put into his music, and more. The heavy riffs, the awe-inspiring beat of the drums, and then the fast pace of the vocals. Hip-Hop style vocals aren’t exactly White’s signature, but they have featured throughout his career, from ‘Icky Thump’ in his, ‘White Stripes’, days, and parts of ‘Treat Me Like Your Mother’ from his time with, ‘The Dead Weather’, to ‘Lazaretto’ from his last solo album, White has always tried to incorporate these fast vocal lines into most of his work. The addition of Synths, and R&B/Hip-Hop musicians was definitely a step out of his comfort zone, but it’s been done perfectly, and there is just the right mix of the distinctive guitar, and the new found modern styles.
Songs such as ‘Over and Over and Over’ show he still has his skilled guitar playing abilities, where ‘Ice Station Zebra’ channels a more ‘Lazaretto’ vibe, and then ‘Abulia and Akrasia’ has a ‘Little Acorns’ feel with the laid back, spoken lyrics. Then ‘Respect Commander’ shows how well White has mixed his new discoveries with his roots, resulting in a true masterpiece, that just keeps delivering with every second that passes. It starts off with a fast paced drum rhythm, similar to something you would hear in a club, and then a riff that sounds like it’s straight out of his last album gets laid over the top to create a sound that very few people would be able to pull off correctly. It then slows down, and has a much more bluesy feel, as the drums slow, and the guitar starts to sing like it once did whilst White was knocking out masterpieces with ‘The White Stripes’.
At first, ‘Boarding House Reach’, may not be what fans were expecting, or what they would listen to, but once it’s been listened to a few times, the true skill starts to come out. If you take the synths out, this album really is just another Jack White album, but by keeping them in, it becomes something more. It becomes a contender for the best, and by far the most experimental, album for a long time. This album is a true masterpiece.