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Jack White – Boarding House Reach Album Review

This is a review by Chad Plamondon. "If I’m not digging through the bins of my local record store I’m probably writing new music with my band, Alleviate."

If you’re expecting to hear overdriven guitars creating bluesy riffs then Jack White’s new album, “Boarding House Reach“, might shock you. It’s loaded with surprises, musical transitions, and obscure sounds, which is very well represented in the five-minute video “Servings and Portions from my Boarding House Reach”.

Opening the album with the ominous hum of the synthesizer on “Connected By Love”, the albums lead single, really sets the mood of what’s to come. “Why Walk A Dog” brings some classic White lyrical melodies and a cheekiness we’ve learned to love from White. “Corporation” is a Zappa inspired jam track that pulls you in right from the start with a great hook and really starts leading us down the journey that is “Boarding House Reach”. ”Abulia and Akrasia” a short and sweet tune, which sounds like it’s leading us to a “Consolers of the Lonely” B-side influenced track, but instead leads to the very modern sounding and synth-heavy, “Hypermisophoniac”, a track that is primarily a sample played on loop with an unpredictable piano tossed in the mix. The albums first side ends with the funky, “Ice Station Zebra” that includes hints of classic hip-hop, complete with a frantic White rap, one that will divide his longtime fans. After listening to the first side you hear Jack White is hanging up his signature sound, at least for now.

Side B

Flipping to the next side, my personal favourite of the singles released so far, “Over and Over and Over” kicks us off, bringing a nice sense of familiarity back with overdriven guitars. “Everything You’ve Ever Learned” solidifies Jack’s experimentation and new direction, with resemblance to “Corporation” with a very percussive undertone and call and response lyrics. “Respect Commander” really accents the free-form jazz style that flows through the album and is topped with catchy vocal melodies; this song epitomizes “back alley stabbing music” as Jack White previously described the album. ”Ezmerelda Steals The Show” another transition song into the synthesized dance track “Get In The Mind Shaft”. “What’s Done Is Done” brings some of that roots feeling we know from White’s previous efforts, and personally was a stand out track on the record. “Humoresque” a soft piano ballad, gives a fitting end musically and lyrically to this obscure album, and makes me curious to see how these songs will translate live. Overall this album accents Jack Whites change in direction, but came with the cost of a few “filler tracks”. Although a very modern and bizarre record, the organ that seems to flow throughout most the record helps it feel like a form of obscure concept rather than a collection of standalone tracks. White is clearly experimenting with new instruments, tones and sounds, most notably the synthesizer and drum machine, marking the start of a new era in his already large catalogue. In full “Boarding House Reach” feels like an experimental album fused with grains of electronic, hip-hop, jazz, funk, blues, and folk.

The album will be released March 23rd on vinyl in Canada.

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