Classics Corner: The Raconteurs: Consolers of the Lonely

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Alex Cardona
acardona@radford.edu

Jack White was born John Anthony Gillis on July 9 1975, and is best known for his two person band (the other member being his now divorced wife, Meg White), The White Stripes. The White Stripes started out in 1997 and rose to prominence with each new studio album, peaking with their 2007 release of Icky Thump, their final album. While The White Stripes was White’s first band, it was by no means his last. After The White Stripes ended, White, with his friend Brendan Benson, decided to form a band after a particularly fruitful jam session. The song “Steady as She Goes” was written and the two decided that further collaboration was in order, this time with a full band. Backup vocalist Jack Lawrence along with drummer Patrick Keeler of, The Greenhornes, were added to the band and The Raconteurs were born. A “raconteur” is a skillful storyteller, which is precisely what the band set out to do. They released their second album in 2008. Consolers of the Lonely is a 56-minute, 14-track long album filled with a uniquely diverse yet altogether similar feel. The album’s tracks vary from the solid bluegrass of “Top Yourself” to the hard rock feel of “Salute Your Solution”. While the brass horns and piano in “The Switch and The Spur” create the sound of an epic journey, songs like “You Don’t Understand Me” and “Many Shades of Black” convey the raw emotional side of the band. White and Benson trade off on vocals regularly which works greatly to the band’s advantage; While White’s vocals can sometimes upstage the more simple instrumentation in songs like “Five on the Five”, Benson’s vocals do just the opposite, acting as a centerpiece of sorts, enhancing the music enveloping it. The song “Old Enough” is a perfect example of this. “Carolina Drama”, the last track on the album, is a lyric-driven song where White’s vocals create an ominous atmosphere to the overall bluesy sound. White’s musical style has evolved time and time again in new and different ways with each of his bands but his involvement with The Raconteurs is him at his most relaxed. For once it’s nice to have White not taking his lyrics or himself too seriously. If you’re looking for an album with a folk sound attached to all the things White learned from his time in the White Stripes then his time in the White Stripes is something worth exploring.