It’s only been a few weeks since I got to listen to Jack White’s Fear Of The Dawn which came our earlier in 2022 and soon after I discovered another record was already on the way from the Third Man Records head honcho, Entering Heaven Alive.
While his first album of the year is possibly the heaviest collection he’s released to date, this one takes things in a rather different direction with the acoustic guitar being at the centre of the songs rather than the electric guitar driven garage blues sound that is, arguably, more White’s trademark.
With this in mind this record is far more of a complete mood piece than the sort packed with singles, which isn’t to say the songs aren’t good with A Tip From You To Me, All Along The Way, Queen Of The Bees, If I Die Tomorrow and Madman From Manhattan being particular standouts.
As a whole though the album is loosely split in two with the first half being love songs (of various flavours) and the second being more thoughtful or story telling pieces but all with a clear sonic through line.
Of course this being Jack White it’s not quite as straightforward as to say this is an ‘acoustic album’ as each track is layered with other instruments but all to serve the more back to basics feel – even when the inevitable fuzzy and fractious electric guitar does make an appearance its in a far more subtle way than might be expected elsewhere.
With that the whole thing sounds exceptionally live and intimate, almost as if White and his band have set up in your living room, and while it is exceptionally well produced there are moments where you can hear the instruments being played in the way you only can live which is great to hear captured on record and is clearly an intentional choice.
While the whole thing has the feel of being acoustic guitar based it does extend across several different styles, though as is typical for White it’s hard to pin any song down to a specific genre.
Across the record then it goes from hints of 30s American blues, to Weimar era cabaret jazz, to the 60s LA canyon sounds of the likes of Crosby, Stills And Nash or Neil Young, to 70s New York a la Lou Reed and, as it weaves between all of these, it has that particular sound that only Jack White seems to have and has marked certainly his solo records if not The White Stripes before them too.
This all makes Entering Heaven Alive another fine addition to Jack White’s repertoire and a great companion piece to Fear Of The Dawn that again I suspect with reveal more layers as time goes on and I can’t help but point out the Django referencing in the video for If I Die Tomorrow (which you can see below)…