Jack White feels that his recent album fear of dawn has “the guitar playing I’m most proud of,” as he told Variety magazine. It strikes a nice balance between big grating riffs, as simple as a sledgehammer, and daredevil solos that treat the strings of the instrument like tightropes, a tour de force of imaginative fretwork.
Released only three months later, Enter alive in paradise is the mellow twin of its pumped-up predecessor, White largely swapping his electric guitar for an acoustic model. In the opening “A Tip From You to Me”, he sings about being alone in the night, a reference to the nocturnal setting of fear of dawn. “Will love leave me alone tonight?” he asks. Those familiar with his previous unplugged work in The White Stripes and his solo career will know the answer.
Give White an acoustic guitar or piano and he’ll go at them hammers and pliers, but his soft side will invariably make an appearance. One of the White Stripes’ most beloved tracks, “Hotel Yorba,” is a roughly strummed acoustic stomper that ends with a marriage proposal. White played it at an April concert in his former hometown of Detroit just before proposing and quickly marrying his musician girlfriend Olivia Jean onstage.
Enter alive in paradise is full of love songs. As sung by White, whose normal vocal style is that of someone struggling to escape a straitjacket, their romantic feelings border on the weird. “I love you like my mother loves me,” he confesses in “Queen of the Bees,” a reminder that he and his previous wife Meg White pretended to be siblings in The White Stripes. But the song itself, a flippancy The jungle Book breeze with ticklish marimba rhythms and a groovy electric organ solo, is delightfully offbeat.
“I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love)” is a piece of jazzy exoticism during which his electric guitar makes an exit. “Taking Me Back (Gently)” remakes a track from fear of dawn like a hug on the violin with an acoustic solo à la Django Reinhardt. In its quietest, least flashy way, Enter alive in paradise finds White challenging himself as much as he did on fear of dawnand also rewarding.
‘Enter alive in paradise‘ is published by Third Man