It's difficult not to think of The Dead Weather as a slightly
reversed The White Stripes, where the drumming girl has moved
to lead vocals while the lead guitarist/singer has relocated back
behind the skins. Oh, and the membership is multiplied by two.
Alison Mosshart, of The Kills, is a fine vocalist.
But she oftentimes sounds a whole lot like a female version of Jack
White, particularly because of her world weary singing during
"The Difference between Us". The Dead Weather's drumming
is significantly funkier - at least exemplified by Sea Of Cowards
- than almost anything in The White Stripes' catalogue. "I'm
Mad" has a groove going for it that is somewhat buried underneath
its dirty guitars. But "Hustle and Cuss" is like Blaxploitation-meets-alternative
rock. Dean Fertita is listed as the group's lead guitarist,
although White's signature sound can be heard throughout the disc.
"I'm Mad" is all spaced-out guitar, rather than filled with
White's usual update of the blues, which may mark it as Fertita work.
However, "Gasoline" is clearly a White solo. The same can
be said about "Jawbreaker".
Mosshart is the main vocalist in this quartet. Nevertheless, White
takes a few turns behind the microphone, as well. It's especially
fun to hear Mosshart and White trade vocal lines during the call-and-response
of "Die By The Drop". Jack has been known to sing with Meg
White on The White Stripes' recordings, but while Meg is a purring
kitten, Mosshart's a full-on roaring lion. If these pairings were
compared to a prize fight, Mosshart would be a much more worthy opponent
for Mr. White.
If you're looking for a lyrical theme on Sea Of Cowards, good
luck. Its songs are mostly about the give & take in relationships,
with metaphors stretched out nearly beyond logical comprehension.
Yet, isn't that all part of the fun in a Jack White project? He keeps
the mystique up on a vaunted pedestal, which leads to a whole lot
of curious speculation. For instance, "Old Mary" incorporates
a Catholic prayer into its lyric. This is significant because White
once seriously considered entering the priesthood. Go ahead guessers,
In some small ways, Sea Of Cowards bravely goes where few
Jack White recordings have gone before. Nevertheless, it also travels
a familiar path, which makes for plenty of pleasurable sailing.
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