Music Reviews
Fear of the Dawn

Jack White Fear of the Dawn

(Third Man Records) Rating - 7/10

Since he founded his record label and pressing plant Third Man Records, Jack White has been a loyal ambassador of bringing new and vintage sounds to the masses. But his solo career, which started with 2012's Blunderbuss, has progressively turned more challenging and forward-thinking. And though no one can deny he's a stickler for a good, bluesy riff, the former White Stripes leader has opted to maintain that tricky balance, if not topple it altogether.

Whereas Boarding House Reach, his 2018 LP, felt like a misdirection, an attempt to be experimental for the sake of seeing how far boundaries can be pushed, Fear of the Dawn allows White to mess around within more traditional songwriting sensibilities. White takes off on overdrive with album opener Taking Me Back, resorting to prog-like, finger-tapping theatrics while adding copious amounts of digitalized fuzz. White feels invigorated, taking paths both familiar (title track) and unfamiliar (Eosophobia)—whether he's flexing his proto-metal chops on the former or easing into smooth dub on the latter. The influences he's mostly taking from recall psych rock’s heyday, which explains the carnivalesque stomp of Morning, Noon and Night. But true to his past as an upholster, White repurposes these sounds to create something new.

There's a fluidity and looseness to White's approach on Fear of the Dawn, giving the impression he's having a good time kicking it with his buds in his garage. Considering he's releasing a second album later this year, White might be setting us up with this raucous, more playful side of himself before going on whatever journey he feels like taking us next. He’s more than proven his bona fides at the point, which might explain why White makes even the most frantic arrangements go down easy. It’s somewhat expected of him to make these choices, but make no mistake: White never coasts.