Words by Russell Carstens
On Jack White: Acoustic Recordings: 1998–2016, the prolific Detroit songwriter compiles an extensive, 26-track collection that strips his songs back to their raw elements, much like the recordings of the blues artists that inspired them. To clarify: In this case, “acoustic” means the absence of amplified guitars. Drums and piano are still present on these tracks.
“Apple Blossom” benefits from its new mix, as there is less audible hiss and an improved balance between the vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano. Thankfully, the song still sounds like it slithered out of an photo reel in a 1930s cartoon. Tender, nursery-esque nostalgia yearns through tracks like “We’re Going To Be Friends” and “Well It’s True That We Love One Another.” Having songs from various stages of White’s career helps one notice the maturation of his songwriting: “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” suddenly seems like “I’m Bound To Pack It Up” became a living entity and grew up into an adult.
Regret blankets over the pleading, confessional failures White exorcises in “Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)” and “White Moon.” He doesn’t imitate his blues heroes—he takes a cue from their sincerity instead, acting as a seeker of truth in his own life. Like the artists that made him want to tell his story, White has been beat up by romance gone awry, but at least he has a muse. He channels his defeat into stomping, attitude-filled declarations on “Honey, We Can’t Afford To Look This Cheap” and “Top Yourself.” “Effect & Cause” has a particularly raw thrash that stands out in this collection in a way it didn’t before.
Across the four sides of Acoustic Recordings, White manages his messes, makes resolutions, overcomes bitterness, and reflects to find wisdom. He has stated that blues music is truthful, and this compilation testifies to his beliefs.
‘Acoustic Recordings: 1998–2016’
© September 9th, 2016
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