Ever since Brendan Benson, Jack White, and company formed a band and rescued the word “raconteur” from semantic obscurity, two ever-present companions tagged along in reviews: “supergroup” and “Jack White side project.” Notice the tension there. True, White’s star has always shined brightest, but if anything, Consolers of the Lonely, the Raconteurs’ new album released March 25, makes the band look like a Benson vehicle, a welcome extension of his long-underappreciated solo work—happy-sounding pop songs about being a lonely, misunderstood guy.
Recorded, mastered, and released in less than a month, the album received no advance promotion. Yet rather than feeling like a slacker vanity project, like all of those excessive double-disc live albums (with concert DVD!) bands are rushing out lately, Consolers of the Lonely sounds fully developed, even masterful, thanks in part to the excellent additions of Dirk Powell on fiddle and Stax favorites the Memphis Horns. The casual brilliance of it all makes you wonder if there is any way this group could fail to produce great music.