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Jack White - Fear of the Dawn (Album Review)

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: David James Swanson

Jack White’s first album in four years is a wild ride—a ghoulish, genre-fluid descent into the Michigander’s bat cave of carnival skronk. It’s also quite surprising. While the former White Stripes frontman has cultivated a public persona as a bit of a blues puritan curmudgeon, ‘Fear of the Dawn’ demonstrates something different and out there: a musician constantly on the hunt for new sounds and effects.

Let’s start with the good stuff. That Was Then, This is Now is a smash and grab rock song that would be in the top tier of the White Stripes’ catalogue. It jinks and veers through different sections and time signatures, recalling Led Zeppelin prog-blues and Hendrix thrusting, with White’s chaotic, often angry, wailing over the top.

Elsewhere, Eosophobia (the name of the condition leading to fear of the dawn) is chunky stadium rock that appears to rip through space and time in a mixed-multiverse odyssey.

It is especially impressive given the track clocks in at 3:41. Like the opener, Taking Me Back, this music feels fresh and odd despite owing its fundamentals to familiar classic rock tropes. White is funny like that.

Less successful are tracks Into the Twilight and Hi-De-Ho. The latter features a Cab Calloway sample and a guest spot from hip hop grandee and former A Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip. The song, which opens with a sort of sludge guitar cadenza, doesn’t live as long in the memory as it should, and despite some elegant synth stylings it just feels like a hot mess conceptually.

But the highs on ‘Fear of the Dawn’ more than make up for the lows, and with a second record to follow in July, it's clear that White is in rude creative health. This album displays a degree of musical curiosity, skill and weirdness in White that is not really matched by contemporaries like Josh Homme, Dan Auerbach or, at a push, Julian Casablancas.

It’s sensational, forward-facing pop music that reminds us why White occupies such a particular place in the public imagination. He’s a terrifically gifted and unique entertainer, alongside being a sensational composer and producer.

Jack White Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon June 27 2022 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Tue June 28 2022 - LONDON Eventim Apollo

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