While The Raconteurs did take a very long hiatus, it wasn’t due to any issues. They just took time off to work on their other solo projects. All we know is that they’re back together and ready to rock. For those of you who don’t know this band, they formed in 2005. The band is Jack White (vocals, guitar), Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar), Jack Lawrence (bass guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums). Lawrence and Keeler were originally members of the Greenhornes (originally formed in Ohio, 1999). While White and Lawrence went on to become members of the Dead Weather (formed in 2009).
In 2005, The planets aligned, and they became “The Raconteurs.” The song that took them into the mainstream was “Steady, As She Goes.” Still in 2019, the track is a fan favorite. Their debut album “Broken Boy Soldiers” charted at No.2 in the UK and the follow up “Consolers Of The Lonely” at No.8. Both albums were also Top 10 in the USA. These guys are an outstanding band to see live. This performance below is from Montreux in 2008 which was part of the tour in support of their second album.
Help Us Stranger – New Album
The timing of Help Us Stranger couldn’t be any better than now. You can tell it was a cohesive collaboration among the band. The first time you listen to it, you have certain expectations from their previous albums. But once you get past the first couple tracks, you might as well throw those preconceived expectations out the door. Every single song takes on its own personality and tone.
The album earned the coveted #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 on the week of its release. The album starts off with Bored and Razed which at the beginning has a jam band intro and then all hell breaks loose with heavy classic rock elements pushed to the limit by loud guitars. Check out the Late Show performance of Bored And Razed:
Classic Rock Sounds With A Modern Touch
The Next track Help Me Stranger is my favorite because it starts off with soft twangy Everly Brothers style type lyrics. But then morphs into classic rock elements, with distorted guitars and syncopated drumming similar to the Rolling Stones. They may have been away from each other for a while, but this album is the group’s richest batch of songs to date. The whole band is completely in synch with each other and it shows.
There are some great harmonies on “Only Child” interlaced with synthesizers and distortion. There’s an easy laidback air to the melody and the lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek. Brendan Benson’s vocals are really highlighted on this track. “Shine The Light On Me” has a lot of Beatles infused sounds to it overlaid with soulful piano sounds. Somedays (I don’t Feel Like Trying) could easily be a Lynyrd Skynyrd track with steel guitar country elements and arena rock possibilities!
Tipping The Hat To Donovan
Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness) is the only cover on the album. Originally by Donovan it’s a brand-new faster take on his song that reminds me of White’s I’m Shaking track that he did awhile back. There’s also some pretty spectacular harp playing on it as well. Sunday Driver – Very laid-back vibe to this track that’s similar to, Blind Faith, Humble Pie or Small Faces, It’s really well orchestrated and a great track.
Finally, is the track Thoughts and Prayers – This track is open to a lot of interpretations and late-night conversations. It features Lillie Mae who is a fiddle player based out of Nashville. Not only is she a musician but she has an incredible voice and is someone you check out as well. https://lilymaemusic.com/ It was a nice surprise to hear her playing on this track.
Lastly, before stage diving off my soapbox…
Trust me, this album has elements of all styles of classic rock infused with updated musical arrangements. Help Us Stranger has something for everyone to appreciate at whatever age you may be. It seriously takes you on an interesting musical journey and it’s quite refreshing to hear!
If you see these guys live at a concert venue, beware there is a “no phone policy” happening here…only lighters up in the air! The reason being is that they want to engage with their audience, and they want you, the fans to see a great concert that can make memories that last a lifetime. For some of us older music geeks, we do appreciate the wonderful concert memories that we were privy to and so should you…