Jack White Soars With New Album Entering Heaven Alive

BY XAVIER JOHNSON

The latest album from music writer Jack White Enter alive in paradise is a stripped-down folk record that contrasts remarkably with the distorted and crunchy sound fear of dawn it came out earlier this year.

Throughout his career with The White Stripes through his prolific solo work, White’s aesthetic and sound are always intentional. His gritty garage rock sound with The White Stripes took the music scene by storm, inspiring a wave of independent musicians in the 2000s.

Moreover, he established himself as a prolific producer. White’s list of collaborators is as eclectic as the man himself. White worked with Beyonce in 2016 on Lemonade to create the aggressive and provocative “Don’t Hurt Yourself”. In the same breath, he can collaborate with Alicia Keys on “Another Way to Die” in 2008, bringing his signature sound to create an explosive cinematic success that brought new energy to Keys.

White’s solo discography includes five experimental solo records that draw on a variety of influences from blues, punk, country and folk music. At this point, the white is woven into Americana’s fabric. For some millennial music fans, he’s a modern take on classic American songwriters, pushing the boundaries as a singer-songwriter in a genre that can sometimes become stagnant.

Enter alive in paradise is a lively record that showcases White’s broad talents. His songwriting, musicianship and eccentric energy are on full display. The tracklist throws enough curveballs at the listener to keep them engaged throughout its 40-minute runtime. Throughout the record, White shows he’s a student of the game. The influences built into each song aren’t subtle, but the album doesn’t feel like an homage. He is an artist who creates something new with the building blocks of his ancestors.

The opening track “A Tip From You To Me” brings strong Pink Floyd vibes with the “Oh, will I be alone tonight?” melody sounding like it came straight from “Comfortably Numb”. “Help Me Along” draws inspiration from the lighthearted tracks of the Beatles while “Queen of the Bees” draws inspiration from the group’s more experimental records at the end of their career.

White’s production on the record contributes to the classic feel. The instrumentation breathes the life of a live performance. The timbre of the drums, acoustic guitar and vocals recall the identifiable rock sound of the 1970s. The folk direction brings out the most distorted and eerie sections that White is known for. “I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love)” explodes with distorted guitars and a synth drum machine that could have fit on a White Stripes record.

The track listing reflects the diversity found throughout White’s musical career. Both sonically and lyrically, White takes the listener on a journey from the aforementioned sing-song “Help Me Along” to the bluesy grooves of “A Madman from Manhattan.” The album is a mural bringing together many different experiences to create a unified artistic vision.

All the elements that make up the album come together in three stellar tracks on the back half of the disc. “If I Die Tomorrow” moves smoothly to the rhythm of a march with a killer chorus and a powerful guitar solo. White’s poetic lyricism shines with heartbreaking lines like “If I die tomorrow / Could you find in your heart the strength to sing?” / If my mother cries with sorrow / Will you help her with the many things / That she needs from time to time and from day to day?

“Please God, Don’t Tell Anyone” tells the story of a man who did bad things in his past to support his children; ask the question “Will a thousand good deeds be erased and by one bad one?” The track is enhanced by White’s impassioned vocals and a crescendo that evokes the energy of a higher power.

The closing track is a remix of “Taking Me Back” from his previous album. The loud, crunchy, distorted jam is followed by Enter alive in paradise with “Resume (gently)”. Out of nowhere, the listener is struck by the sound of a violin and a bar jazz rhythm with a double bass and a trap kit.

It’s a surprising way to end the album, but it’s a fitting conclusion to a varied and thrilling audio journey with one of the strongest artists in rock music today.

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