When I think of Jack White, I think of Meg; poor old Meg with her drumsticks and her luscious black hair. I think of The White Stripes & The Raconteurs, both bands who blew my mind within seconds of hearing their albums’ opening tracks. Jack White has astonished me as a musician for many years, but now with the release of his second solo album, Lazaretto, I have noticed a different side to the genius.
Initially, I heard title track – and first single released from the album – Lazaretto on the radio. As soon as the synth dropped in and the riff ripped through me, I was captivated. I instantly wanted the album in my life. The sound was raw, deep and absolutely to my taste. I expected great things from a bass-heavy rock album, but what I got was a little different and completely unexpected.
Temporary Ground, Would You Fight For My Love? and Alone In My Home sound like they are from a totally different musician. Obviously inspired by old-school country music and twinkling piano solos, most of the tracks land in the genre of radio-friendly folk. To me this isn’t a bad thing – I love old school folk music and I’m also a big fan of country westerns; which is where I believe this album belongs.
Each track seems to lead effortlessly into its own episode of a Cowboys and Indians sitcom – with each change marking a growth in the lead character. Jack’s voice is, as usual, stunning – while the band behind him plays with absolute precision. Steel guitars are plentiful, with harmonies between Jack and a number of guest vocalists reminding me of The White Stripes back in the day.
Though, true to its masters’ roots, the album doesn’t lose its rough and heavy sound completely. High Ball Stepper sounds like it’s just come from a Tarantino classic or a Seasick Steve album while Just One Drink makes you want to do just that (preferably in a saloon wearing full leathers).
It’s truly one of the best albums to put on (loudly) and take a long walk to.
Jack White has once again offered up a definitive album that will undoubtedly see huge success in 2014. It’s opened my ears to a new sound for the solo artist. Though, almost nostalgically, it lets me hold on to my love for his older work. I hear snippets of White Stripes, chunks of The Raconteurs and even bits and pieces from the likes of The Dead Weather throughout Lazaretto, which means that I’m already looking forward to the next album, if only to discover what he’s going to come up with next & what wonderful hat he’s going to do it in.