The album’s title carries a biblical reference – it’s inspired by Elijah entering heaven without dying. Differentiating the demented, snarling Taking Me Back opener from Jack White’s previous album Fear of the Dawn (released just three short months ago; read our review here) from this record’s closer Taking Me Back (Gently) – see what he did there? It’s like a double album on loop! – he describes the latter as “a gentle jazzy version recorded on actual 1930s equipment”: acoustic guitar, fiddle and piano.
Standout I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love), which opens like a predator casually stalking its prey, is one of the lonely electric guitar moments throughout the entirety of this contemplative set. Elsewhere, unruly ragtime piano and delightful, flirty fiddle reign supreme.
“Ooh, don’t leave me alone tonight” – this section of opener A Tip from You to Me channels Stairway to Heaven’s “Ooh, it really makes me wonder” parts. Queen of the Bees flies in like a precious relic from a bygone era. White composed this one on “a Mellotron that had samples of other instruments on it”, hence the wacky chord changes. There’s something a bit ye olde, oo-er naughty about this one, as well (“Put your hand in my pocket so the neighbours can see/ I want them to see…”). Also: “I wanna hold you like a sloth hugs a tree” – cute, much?
Joyous instrumental moments include Tree on Fire from Within’s sudden cymbal flurries, If I Die Tomorrow’s Mellotron flutes and Please God, Don’t Tell Anyone’s gobsmacking mid-song piano freakout. White huskily rap-sings this scribe’s current obsession, Madman from Manhattan (“Just on the break of a breakthrough”), with its verses chock-full of show-offy, rhyming Dr Seuss (Cat in the) hat-tips – too much?
“If he could win the time with the dame/ He ain’t ashamed to holler” – such old-timey lingo! We suspect White is a time traveller. And then, “of course,” an angel sings to the protagonist from the inside of a whisky bottle?! Brilliantly bonkers as ever, White’s versatility knows no earthly bounds.
Entering Heaven Alive by Jack White is out Jul 22 via Third Man Records.
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