Beat Jab: M. Ward, Jack White 

Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.

M. Ward
A Wasteland Companion
Merge Records
★ ★ ★ ½

First, have you been to Portland, Oregon? If not, go. Now. You can only really understand the pace of this: the nonchalance, and the personality of it, if you've spent some time in Portland. That's probably not true, but it helps. M. Ward (also of She & Him) is a Portland musician; and in Portland, it makes sense that Zooey Deschanel would stop by the way she does in "Me and My Shadow." When you've been to Portland, when you're listening to this album, otherworldly things seem possible. "When we're dancing and you're dangerously close to me, I get ideas, I get ideas." Romance! Action! Fun! There are hints of Elvis here, and the Beach Boys: really. But it works. Don't expect to be inspired to do great things while listening to this: expect to sip a cold drink, and that's about it. It's subtle and generally quiet, but sometimes that's nice. It sort of whispers and echoes its way through itself. Certainly not for all times, or all people, but it'll match that sunny afternoon if you need it to.

click to enlarge Jack White's 'Blunderbuss' - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jack White
Third Man Records (in association XL Recordings and Columbia Records)
★ ★ ★ ★

Jack White is a solo man now, and one who is known for his work with other bands (namely, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather). Unlike M. Ward, this album is absolutely fierce. He sort of lays it all out. The lyrics are harsh and funny, at once: human. A blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading firearm; the word is a combination of the Dutch for "thunder" and "pipe". Which actually makes sense, is suddenly the perfect way to describe this. Fans of The White Stripes will not be disappointed: this is as much rock as you're expecting. He owns the guitar here. White has done it allalready, and so this sounds like he's finally getting to show it off. The title song is act,ually one of the slower tracks - it'll remind you that he has an incredible voice - one of those voices that can actually change your mood. In a recent NPR interview, White admitted that he couldn't have made the album without Wanda Jackson: which proves that he's deep into the music roots. He's remarkably timeless.

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