It’s a beautiful, beautiful day. The White Stripes are back. Although Meg and Jack released their last album almost a decade ago, White’s Acoustic Recordings, out September 9th, slipped a previously unreleased track into the mix of acoustic songs spanning his 20-year career.
“City Lights” has quickly become one of my favorite tracks, because it encapsulates perfectly White’s transition from acoustic music as experimental interlude to a legitimate mode of storytelling. The finger-picked melody pairs beautifully with Jack’s raw vocals, proving that White is a powerful musician whether he’s shredding with The Dead Weather or playing up the bluegrass vibe of his first solo album.
Although I’ve been obsessed with Jack White for basically ever, I was slightly disappointed with this release. I expected more new material – not necessarily new songs (although “City Lights” is certainly a gem), but more acoustic versions of traditionally scuzzy tracks. The first CD is basically just ripped from White Stripes albums; there’s an interesting timeline with the release date of each track, showing the progression of his sound across the career of the White Stripes, but I feel like this could just as easily have been a playlist on the Third Man website. The second CD is more interesting, with several alternate and acoustic mixes, and a really choice reinterpretation of The Raconteur’s “Top Yourself.” The album will definitely appeal to Jack White completionists, but the casual collector would be better off waiting for the 7″ vinyl of “City Lights” that will surely be added to Jack White’s store.
White’s career has been a prodigious one, with an enormous diversity of influences and sounds. This album’s strength lies in its ability to narrow the field and allow its listeners to focus on just one aspect of Jack: his acoustic journey. Overall, Acoustic Recordings is a solid release, if not a particularly exciting one. The album would have benefited from bringing something new to the table – more bluegrass or alternate mixes, for example – although “City Lights” and its hypnotic music video really deserved a platform for release. Personally, I can’t wait to see what White does next. He recently played the first phonographic record in space and released one of the coolest interactive music videos ever: his creativity is showing no signs of stopping, which says great things about his future releases. Pick up a copy of Acoustic Recordings on vinyl or CD here.