Jack White – Fear of the Dawn
By Michael Bamarni | Top tracks: That Was Then, This is Now, Shedding My Velvet, & What’s The Trick?
The former White Stripe has created one of the best albums of his incredible two decade + career with the heavy and experimental, Fear of the Dawn.
Jack White doesn’t have much left to prove. He was the mastermind behind one of the greatest rock bands of the 2000s (The White Stripes, ever heard of them?) He also plays an integral role as a member of two other successful bands (as singer/guitarist with The Raconteurs and singer/drummer with The Dead Weather). Oh, and he runs the extremely successful record label (that has three locations as of 2022), Third Man Records. Which has over the years grown into a record store, performance venue, and headquarters. Third Man Records has also played a significant role in the remarkable resurgence of vinyl records – as Jack White has been championing for the audio format since the beginning of his career in the late 90s. That’s enough right?
Well, starting in 2012 (five years after the final White Stripes record), Jack decided to release music as a solo artist. His debut record, Blunderbuss, was so confident and cohesive that I legitimately began to think that the untimely death of The White Stripes (announced in early 2011) may not be the end of the world after all.
Sadly, I ate my words with the release of 2014’s Lazeretto, which was not only an incredibly safe and uninspired record, but also the worst album Jack White has ever attached the “White” name to. Boarding House Reach (the 2018 follow up to that underwhelming record), was sonically the complete opposite listening experience. It’s only major flaw was that it was a tad too experimental and noisy for its own good. With that being said, at least with BHR the highlights were up there with White’s best, and the worst cuts, if nothing else, showcased a man trying his best to create something musically unique (which must be commended in the modern day music hellscape we live in). To be frank this album showed a lot of promise, but left something to be desired.
Side Note – I reviewed Boarding House Reach for WGMU Radio back when it came out in 2018, but rose colored glasses admittedly made me like it more when it was first released than I do four years later, however I still believe it’s a solid 8/10.
Fear of the Dawn, the brand new Jack White LP, has pulled off something incredible in that it maintains the experimental energy that made Boarding House Reach such a compelling (yet sometimes difficult) listen, while also introducing enough melody and heavy riffage to stay consistently magnificent throughout its 40 minute runtime.
The album starts with the loud and in your face one-two punch of “Taking Me Back” and “Fear of the Dawn”, two tracks that need to be blasted at full volume to truly be appreciated. The record stays strong with the guitar lick driven “The White Raven” and then abruptly takes a turn into the extra strange (somehow he makes this weird record even weirder) on the sample heavy and Q-Tip featuring “Hi-De-Ho”.
I won’t make this review a track-by-track run through of FotD, but I must make clear that the record has no misses. Now of course there are songs here that are better than the others (in my humble opinion of course) which all so happen to pop up on the second half of the album. The riff centered and overall chaotic “What’s the Trick?”, the epic and dynamic “That Was Then, This is Now”, and the relatively calm, but still experimental “Shedding My Velvet” are three absolute masterpieces that easily stand up to the best of The White Stripes work.
Dawn is not completely perfect (it arguably could have done with another soft track for example), but its spectacular combination of metal inspired guitar riffs, hip-hop drum beats, and consistent Jack Whitery makes the first of two 2022 Jack White albums absolutely required listening.