Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Jack White lets loose on “What’s the Trick?”
Jack White is nothing if not ambitious.
The former frontman of The White Stripes has a penchant for the odd, the atonal, and the avant-garde — the man just likes to get weird with his music, at the end of the day. His new album, Fear of the Dawn, inhabits that same risky space that keeps listeners coming back to see what he’s trying next. While not every big swing leads to a payoff on the album, it’s hard to deny the raw energy of “What’s the Trick?”
The track is anchored by a steady guitar riff and offset by White’s speak-singing. It’s a high-energy monologue that reads more like a neatly organized poem when the lyrics are laid out on paper, far more organized than the song feels on first listen. There are stanzas, a rhyme scheme, and (most critically) all the existential desperation that makes for an interesting poet. “If I die tomorrow, what did I do today?/ You want fresh air?/ You won’t find it this way,” he says with earned dramatics.
Here, even more than some other parts of the album, the presence of so many Jack Whites is crystal clear. He wrote the song, played the drums, guitar, bass, and additional percussion, acted as the co-sound engineer, and then had a hand in the mixing. Everything went down at his home base of Third Man Records in Nashville, his beloved studio and record shop on a dingy, otherwise forgotten block of the city. This, most of all, feels right — White pays no mind to what’s trendy, or sleek, or polished. He’s going to make the art he wants to make.
— Mary Siroky