Jack White’s debut album of 2022, Fear of the Dawn, was all about unusual flags, excellent guitar skills, and bizarre partnerships. The second, Entering Heaven Alive, is mostly for fans of White’s more typical and relaxed side. In some ways, it’s a welcome addition, but it may also be a less thrilling journey, depending on your preferences.
These primarily acoustic tracks, like the electrified songs on Fear of the Dawn, represent White’s background. Perhaps even more so. After all, the raw, acoustic style of the 1930s bluesmen has more in common with White’s guitar playing than the Electric Prunes.
Fear of the Dawn and 2018’s Boarding House Reach were both shocks in Entering Heaven Alive. Even the sonic bombs that littered his first solo album, Blunderbuss, released in 2012, and his second solo album, Lazaretto, released in 2014, aren’t as prevalent here. This album sounds more like Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 than any previous White album, solo or with the band. Entering Heaven Alive is one of White’s most intimate albums, yet towards the course of the song, that personal touch loses some of its allure.
“I don’t need nobody’s aid now longer,” he says in the opening song, “A Tip From You to Me.” This seems to be a change of heart for an artist who has built a living by collaborating with others. But White isn’t interested in being accepted at face value; the album is as much an exercise in inconsistencies as it is in praises. He pleads, “Help me along,” only two songs later. He takes up an electric guitar two songs later to perform “I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love),” which is a better match for Dawn. At times, it seemed like White didn’t know what to do with the tracks that didn’t belong on Fear of the Dawn, so he threw them here.
Some of the tracks that stick out include “Love Is Selfish,” “If I Die Tomorrow,” and “Please God, Don’t Tell Anyone.” Ending Entering Heaven Alive with an unplugged rendition of “Taking Me Back,” the song that launched Fear of the Dawn with explosive fury, White finally takes everything back to the first album. The rolling piano and zipping violin sound like an Old West frolic here, and they lead White to a Django Reinhardt-inspired acoustic guitar solo that even fans of his plugged-in music can appreciate.
1. A Tip From You To Me
2. All Along The Way
3. Help Me Along
4. Love Is Selfish
5. I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love)
6. Queen Of The Bees
7. A Tree On Fire From Within
8. If I Die Tomorrow
9. Please God, Don’t Tell Anyone
10. A Madman From Manhattan
11. Taking Me Back (Gently)