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Monday, June 11, 2018

Boarding House Reach

Here's a lesson on ignoring Amazon reviews. I have every album Jack White has ever been part of, whether it's the White Stripes, Dead Weather,The Raconteurs, or solo. I consider him the greatest rock musician of this century (so far). So when his new solo album, Boarding House Reach, came out I had every intention of getting it.

But then I mistakenly looked at the review on Amazon. It has three and a half stars, not bad, but 16 percent are one-star reviews. Uh oh, I thought. There's this: "I like White's work. I cannot like this. Self indulgent drek. Its a long time since I have heard so much self indulgent, discordant, noodling. It's like one of those contractual obligation records that artists used to do get away from a label back in the day," or "I don't even know how to describe how terrible this album is. It's almost like he's lost his mind. There's always next time I guess. I'll always be a fan...but what is going on here? I get that he's being experimental but fresh. Come on Jack."

Well, those two reviewers are entitled to their opinion, because I finally did get the album and it's great, just as good as any other Jack White release. Yes, it's weird, but wonderfully so. Some of it is like a trip inside his head, which is probably a very strange place.

The album contains some good straight-forward guitar-driven rock and roll, such as "Connected By Love," "Corporation," and "Over and Over and Over." There's a song with the title of Howard Hughes' favorite movie, "Ice Station Zebra," which says nothing about the film but does rhyme Caravaggio with Joe. There's also a song that features some experimenting with a synthesizer with the bizarre title of "Hypermisophonic."

The really weird stuff includes "Why Walk a Dog?" a song that proposes that dogs should run wild, I guess. White doesn't understand the evolution of dogs--they chose to be cared for by humans. They get regularly fed and have a warm place to sleep. White loves to give songs titles that don't appear in the lyrics, like "Ezmerelda Steals the Show," and "Abulia and Akrasia." This song is so out there that I'd like to print the entire lyric, which sounds like an exploding thesaurus:

"These are my demands
I renounce wholeheartedly
In this extreme abjuration
That which I repudiate so vehemently
Adamantly unrepentant
Implacable and intractable
I abdicate with inexorable pleasantry
In this solemn refutation
This most earnest repudiation
I shall not negate
That which I state irrevocably
But I do it so gently
That you cannot resent me
For this humble request of my company
So with time left permitting
And while we're still sitting
May I please have another cup of tea?"

Another song, "Get in the Mind Shaft," includes a spoken word opening about him finding a piano in an abandoned house. And I really love "Everything You've Ever Learned," in which White sings, in the style of a tent-revival preacher:

"Do you want everything?
Then you can have everything
What is everything?
Do you wish for nothing?
Then you will have nothing
Now that is something
Do you wanna see it all?
Well, you can just open your eyes
The one who is prepared, is never surprised
 Do you wanna question everything?
Then think of a good question"

This Jack White fan loves this record, and understands that musicians at his level don't want to repeat themselves. They push the envelope and expand their creativity. White had done this on Boarding House Reach.

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