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Jack White: 'Lazaretto' Album Review

Ashley Hawkins |
June 10, 2014 | 11:35 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The music icon dominates the album cover from his gothic throne. (Photo via thirdmanrecords.com)
The music icon dominates the album cover from his gothic throne. (Photo via thirdmanrecords.com)
With the release of “Lazaretto,” hopefully Jack White will finally start making headlines for his musical talent rather than for his (probably misunderstood) comments about other performers that seem to dominate online music journals. After all, the quality of “Lazaretto” as an album has nothing to do with the loads of gossip preceding its release.

Yet, with the increased media attention surrounding White – who has even been on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” twice in the past month – the public’s expectations for his sophomore solo album only continued to grow. So, the question is, does “Lazaretto” live up to the hype?

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Certainly, the album is a little self-indulgent – almost every song includes either a piano or guitar solo for White to show off his talents, but the first two releases from the album are, nonetheless, alt-rock stunners. “High Ball Stepper,” the first song off the album (although not the first single), is essentially a four minute-long guitar solo, featuring Jack White’s iconic guitar effect. Similarly, the title track (and first single) – with a strong bass line and White’s easily recognizable rock-rapping – is sure to be a summer hit both on alternative radio and at music festivals. 

A couple of other songs on the album fit into this alt-rock niche White has created over his career, namely “Would You Fight for My Love?” and “Black Bat Licorice.” A love song characterized by a drum-heavy melody, the former is similar structurally to “A Martyr for My Love for You” off The White Stripe’s 2007 album, “Icky Thump,” except for the addition of the piano and its odd 40-second introduction. The latter, although much blusier than the former, has incredibly similar instrumentation to many of the songs (particularly “Trash Tongue Talker”) on “Blunderbuss,” White’s first solo album. 

However, more than half of the album strays from the more accessible alternative rock that Jack White plays in The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather in favor of a blues and country-inspired sound. Both “Three Women” and “Just One Drink” – which may be the next single off the album and has two different intros on the "Lazaretto" Ultra LP – feature prominent, bluesy piano-driven melodies. Additionally, “Alone in My Home” has retro, classic blues-rock style production, making the drums and bass in the song sound incredibly similar to those in “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band

Most unique to this album compared to his past projects are the extremely present country influences. The steel guitar and violin (or should I say fiddle) in “Temporary Ground” and “I Think I Found the Culprit” put these two songs in between the alternative and country genres. Alternatively, there is no questioning that the two remaining songs on the album are pure country: “Entitlement” is an old-school, slow tune comparable to music by The Everly Brothers, and “Want and Able,” a simple acoustic guitar-led song, is only slightly more upbeat. 

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Because Jack White experiments so noticeably with his more emblematic alternative sound, it is uncertain if this new album will be as popular as “Blunderbuss” was two years ago. Still, “Lazaretto” is a solid album, sure to satisfy (if it cannot amaze) his current fan base while attracting new fans favoring blues and country, and Jack White will undoubtedly entertain audiences with his career-spanning sets at festivals and at his own concerts. 

Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Hawkins here.



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