Jack White and his new ‘Lazaretto’

Lindsay Lillig

Third Man Records released Jack White’s second studio album “Lazaretto” in June and listeners are eagerly indulging in the fresh serving of Blues rock serenades.
The album was inspired by a compilation of poems, short stories and plays that White wrote when he was 19—which he found in his attic several years later.
“Some of it is garbage and I sort of laughed while I was reading it…but I was just coming up with new styles of attacking songwriting for the album,” White told Rolling Stone Magazine prior to the album’s release.
His intention held true. “Lazaretto” brings together an assortment of musical styles and lyrics unlike compositions in his first studio album (“Blunderbuss”). These are the highlights.

“Lazaretto”
This single opens with a muted, electric guitar riff that repeats throughout each verse. An additional riff of drums leads White in to commence the vocals. White carries on in his traditional, staccato style, chanting lyrics like “Makin’ models of people I used to know out of coffee and cotton” and “Time is lost, no time at all, throw it in a garbage can and I shake God’s hand.” The electric violin solo in the bridge is a welcomed change of pace to the stagnant melody in the rest of the song.

“Would You Fight for My Love”
The opening piano-drum-guitar combination of in track is highly reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ sound, particularly of “Sympathy for the Devil.” The song creates a vibe more like “Gimme Shelter.”. White’s voice is rather evocative of Mick Jagger’s as well. White cries out “Nobody noticed I was down on the rug, I’m getting better at becoming a ghost,” and “So then there I am, the caretaker of sin to your abandoned and malignant heart.” This song is best described as the ballad of the album.

“Alone in My Home”
The piano at the top of this track is more lighthearted than in the songs preceding it. This song has some Jerry Lee Lewis twang to it. White and his backup female vocalist really capture an early rock and roll sound—similar to the Johnny Cash and June Carter duo. They croon “These stones that are thrown against my bones break through” and “I build my own home to be sure that nobody can touch me now.” The tracks “Temporary Ground” and “Just One Drink” also have similar sounds.

“That Black Bat Licorice”
White makes his way back to a more distinguished sound toward the end of the album. The snare, the guitar and piano riff together and White chanting phrases “’Cause without my skull to amplify sounds, it might get boring” and “Don’t you want to lose the part of the brain that has opinions?” make the song reminiscent of White’s earlier work.
The album has an odd compilation of genres morphed together in a way that only White would dare produce. Long-time White fans may not love the experimentation, but once-opposed listeners may appreciate the change in sound. Whether the album is a hit or miss, White has an undeniable knack for writing unanticipated, introspective lyrics, and “Lazaretto” is a fine illustration of this.