Jack & The Dominos
Soul. Some may argue the genesis of what was termed “rock and roll” comes from the intrepid desire of then young musicians to bring soul to the stale music that filled their world. Decades later, some may also wonder if the “soul” many strived so hard to bring to popular music has been lost. Would such a modern-day skeptic find solace in The Raconteurs’ debut Broken Boy Soldiers?One would hope so, as Jack White and Brendan Benson’s chemistry is deserving of accolades and recognition. Along with Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler (bass and drums respectively) of The Greenhornes, the two frontmen trade off duties singing, playing guitar and keyboards over the course of ten vital tracks. The album starts off strong with lead single “Steady, As She Goes,” lead by White’s high-pitched musings over the prospects of marriage. Deceptively simple, the twanging melody carries the song initially until Lawrence’s bassline shifts from a stark two-note thud into an awesome ascending pentatonic mirroring White’s crisp vocals.
Title track “Broken Boy Soldiers” is less rock and more eclectic country, with slide guitar and a repetitious cymbal rhythm from Keeler driving the song while White howls the lyrics “I’m done ripping myself off.” Benson’s voice on the ballad “Together,” although not as instantly grabbing, has a calmness to it that rings of sincerity. The two voices make astounding complement to one another on “Yellow Sun,” a song best described as a pop-folk hybrid with bouncy keyboards. Similarly, a funky keyboard riff helps make “Level” one of the coolest and most enjoyable tracks on BBS.
Closer “Blue Veins” puts a cap on the whole experience, a blues number so well-constructed it sounds like the work of forty-year veterans. Jack White’s first foray into a traditional “band” since The White Stripes found success is as excellent as any material he produced there. Truly an offering loaded with ingenuity and soul.