Moore Music: Jack White’s “Fear of the Dawn”
The phrase “the man the myth the legend” is a bit overused these days, often used in jest or just as a meme. But it’s very appropriate to use when talking about someone like Jack White, man not only globally renowned for his ludicrous guitar skills and wild performances, but also anecdotes about his eclectic style, and eccentric personality. There’s a mythos around Jack about how he was an unscrupulous upholsterer in Detroit, built a guitar out of scraps of junk, and devised some of the most wacky vinyl records ever concieved. With the White Stripes long in the Rearview, he’s focused on his other band the Raconteurs, Third Man Records label, and mostly his solo career. Now deep into his Blue phase with a new hairstyle that matches, he releases his latest album Fear of the Dawn, which could be the guitar god at his most unhinged.
Jack White is a man obsessively dedicated to his craft, and often times that means pushing the limits of it into unforeseen territory. The songs on Fear of the Dark come hard and fast and leave nothing on the table, this is White at his most quick-hitting and in your face with riffs that are heavily distorted and choppy to the point they sound like a different instrument all together. The blues infusion of his past works is all but gone, and instead work of Tom Morello comes to mind, the only guitarist in the modern age of rock in the same stratosphere as White, its similarly course and scratchy and but also, super funky? It has that same cadence that a lot of his music has, that culminates in wild screeches and cathartic solos, or in the case of the song Hi Di Ho, a rap interlude from Q-Tip. This was a combination of styles I never realized how badly I needed to hear.
But speaking of Morello and hip hop, there is definitely a strange sort of early 2000s flavor to a lot of this, the tone and agression of the playing makes me think of now defunct nu metal bands like Alien Ant Farm, and believe it or not, even some ringtones from that era.
That’s another quality found on this record- songs here are progressive too, the second half of each cut ends up with little in common with how it began, which is an interesting way to maintain flow on a record. A song can start with grinds and squelches and screwed up talkboxes and end up with Spanish Guitar. Overall Fear of the Dawn is definitely up there with Jack White’s finest outings from any point in his stories career. It’s pretty short, but it’s REALLY tight It’s a pastiche of uncanny sounds like being in a haunted mansion where every door opens to a strange new world. Few other artists out there have such a distinctive sound and voice and overall vibe, and even fewer consistently find new ways to utilize those gifts.