The first line of “Blunderbuss,” the debut solo album by former White Stripes singer-guitarist Jack White, arrives with a lyrical punch in the face: “I was in the shower, so I could not tell my nose was bleeding,” he sings. After such a greeting, one can’t help but wonder about the journey ahead. How will the 36-year-old fare over the next 13 songs when he’s already drawn his own blood?
Bodily concerns aside, White is a wonderfully creative historian who over the last 15 years has built an expanding empire — and a few distinctive bands — as a means to shine a light on American music. With the Stripes, he and drummer Meg White channeled blues riffs through DIY punk rock energy; as part of the four-man Raconteurs, he helps generate heavy power pop; and with the Dead Weather, he drums as Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart moans the blues.
He’s also done production work for, among others, Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson, and he runs a record label and store called Third Man. White’s a renaissance man to be sure, but he’s also a purist of sorts who fancies basic rock structures and tunings, and harbors a general disinterest in music-tech advances, artificial sounds or remixes.
On “Blunderbuss,” the Detroit-born, Nashville-based White focuses on the pre-computer, post-hippie era of music, circa 1970-75, a style mastered by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople, the Who and, most obviously, the Faces, all of whom started off in the world of aggressive British Invasion rock but stretched out with bigger, heavier sounds as they matured.