Everything Jack White touches turns to gold and the sophomore solo outing from the White Stripes former delivers on the all the quality we’ve come to expect.
Lazaretto (Third Man Records/Columbia) is riff-raging cock-strutting rock n’ roll that traverses garage blues and folk-roots realms, is dosed in haunting gospel-hued drama, and alternately makes you want to bang your head, shake your ass, or sit back and enjoy a lazy respite on a sun-lit back porch rocking chair. Guitar textures range from the acoustic strums and picks of the album’s twangy balladry (“Temporary Ground,” “Entitlement”), to wailing pedal steel solos set amid piano-fueled honky tonking (“Just One Drink,” “Three Women”), to thick distortion-laden passages that propel Lazaretto’s bombastic stomp and are joined by equally fuzzed-out basslines and grinding B3 organ grooves as in the the album’s title track and scorching first single, which devolves into a breakdown made for rocking the fuck out.
Everything is finished with fine instrumental flourishes – fiddle, harp, mandolin, clavinet, analog synths and even some maracas and Afro percussion – and White’s distinguishing vocals alternate between yearning moans, howling declarations and crooning harmonies with sweet feminine backing, depending on the mood of the track. Album highlight “That Bat Black Licorice” is pure White genius that calls on all his usual sonic tropes but veers in unexpected directions with odd pacing, circus-weird keys and spooky falsetto harmonies supporting White’s spit-sung lyrical turns.
Critics’ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
"High Ball Stepper"