Reviewed: The Raconteurs and T Bone Burnett

The critical take on new albums from Jack White and T Bone Burnett


Salon Staff
May 16, 2006 11:35PM (UTC)

The Raconteurs, "Broken Boy Soldiers"

Whether or not recording with an actual band -- instead of his usual musical partner, Meg White -- would cause Jack White to diverge from his trademark bluesy primitivism seems to have been the standard critical lens through which to view the Raconteurs' "Broken Boy Soldiers," the album White recorded with fellow rock 'n' roll revivalists Brendan Benson and the Greenhornes. Those hoping for new sounds might be disappointed; Pitchfork (rating 7.3) reports that recording with a full band has nudged White "only a couple clicks over in his classic rock worship." The Detroit News agrees, adding the further caveat that "Broken Boy Soldiers" "lacks the singular focus that drives the White Stripes to their greatest artistic highs."

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While the album may not have revealed any new colors in White's palette, that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable, and as PopMatters writes, the "derivative songs grow on you," an opinion seconded by Entertainment Weekly, which offers the take that the band's "exuberance almost trumps their lack of ambition." "Broken Boy Soldiers" may, in the words of the New York Times, be "a little closer to revivalism than the White Stripes usually get," but the album's informal charm worked on the critic at the Guardian, who praises the album's "beguiling, sunny bonhomie." Drownedinsound.com takes a pragmatic approach, warning listeners to temper their expectations, as "Broken Boy Soldiers" is nothing more and nothing less than "an off-the-cuff collaboration between two friends, and one which, despite its imperfections, is an effort worthy of applause."

T Bone Burnett, "The True False Identity"

"True False Identity" marks T Bone Burnett's return to the world of solo recording after 14 years producing the likes of Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and Gillian Welch, as well as overseeing the Oscar-approved soundtracks for films such as "Cold Mountain" and "O Brother, Where Are Thou?" Burnett's reemergence from behind the boards is a welcome one, with Billboard labeling the album "a gripping yet comic collection of Americana songs braced with wit, heartbreak, social critique and spirituality." But Burnett's Americana is of a distinctly dark variety, and as lookingcloser.org notes, its sound is nothing less than an aural attempt at "voicing the despair of five minutes to midnight."

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Other reviews highlight the album's less despairing aspects, with blogcritics.org praising the way "each song on the disc has its own unique layers of emotional texture that he (Burnett) evokes," and alternatemusicpress.com extolling "True False Identity" as "a work of profound poetry and music."

-- David Marchese


Salon Staff

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