Album Review: Jack White – Boarding House Reach

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I fell in love with Jack White only about 8 years ago when I first surrendered my ears to the Elephant album. Its lyrical content, sleazy guitars and an absolutely beautiful noise stole my heart. Shortly after this, I got word that the White Stripes were no more and I got into Jack White, the person behind the brother / sister duo and who was – no doubt – busy recording solo albums.

Boarding House Reach, White’s 3rd number one solo album, was released on the 23rd March 2018. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to give it a proper listen and write this review.

Truth is: I’ve been struggling to write this review for about a week. This is not the Jack White we all know. This is an album of a David Bowie wannabe who experiments like a madman. This album is a fusion of rock ‘n roll and electronica. To the max.

Boarding House Reach is next level, and here is why:

This album was recorded throughout 2017 at Third Man Studio in Nashville, Sear Sound in New York City, and Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. White produced and co-mixed the album and played guitars, drums, organs, and synthesizers, while also acting as the vocalist.

He performed alongside a brand-new group of session musicians who had previously worked with several notable musical talents in the past. “Connected by Love” was the first song to be written for the album. The track “Over and Over and Over” was originally written in 2005 as a possible song for the White Stripes, one of White’s former bands.

It was also nearly recorded in collaboration with American rapper Jay-Z and almost recorded with another one of White’s bands, the Raconteurs; the song was ultimately shelved until the recording sessions for Boarding House Reach.

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Photo by Manuel Nauta

Jack White’s lyrical prowess and limitless range goes a long way on this album. The epitome of that which sums Jack White: modern punk/garage rock, vocals and guitar skills rated in the top 70 globally, helps in the culmination of Boarding House Reach. And this then is encompassed in technical, electronic and acoustic harmony. This is definitely an album of sheer experimentation without limits; pushing the boundaries of music to a brand-new level.

My very first encounter with this album, was the track “Connected by Love” – through watching the music video. I was completely blown away by the passion expressed in the lyrics as well as the theme of the music video which is an end-of-times scenario. That we as a species, are the sum of each other and we are connected by love. It shows a deeper, more serious Jack White. Not the Jack White we all know and adore, but definitely a Jack White we want to love and adore even more.

I picked up some Black Keys, a lot of funk, some Bluegrass, folk and White Stripes. There is plenty of Jack White distortion, the voice of C.W. Stoneking in the beginning of “Abulia” and “Akrasia”, soothing piano, psychedelic synthesizers, excellent female vocals and the impression that Jack White is probably having the time of his life.

Throughout my struggle to write this review this past week, I did go and look up some reviews by other columnists and writers and they were all negative. However, I refused to give up on White.

I knew there had to be some catch; some reason for it all. There had to be reason a musical prodigy would release an album containing 13 tracks and it should be good. It’s Jack White after all. And I was right.

Boarding House Reach is perhaps an acquired taste. Trust me, it took me a week of non-stop listening. But once you hear it, you’ll be hooked. Just like you have been throughout Jack White’s entire solo career. It is an album of experimentation without boundaries, acoustic revelation, lyrical expression rounded off by a mix of funk, rock and intelligence. In my opinion, White has done it again. An album well worth adding to your collection.

Watch this space for more reviews and updates in the Music category on RWR.

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