Album Review – ‘Lazaretto’ by Jack White

Jack White may be known for his stint with garage rock duo ‘The White Stripes’, but with his second solo release he reminds us that he can hold his own as well – with Lazaretto, the Detroit rocker delivers his most intense and powerful effort yet.

The anger-laced album opens with an aggressive and bitter update on the blues classic Three Women. White’s vocals always lend themselves to a menacing style, and the trembling shouting on the track really throws the frustrations and problems that he’s facing at the listener – he cries “Lordy Lord!” whilst the powerful drums are layered with an almost ragtime piano and erratic slide guitar.

The title track has a similar effect, with White’s guitar squealing away with the staccato bass riffing away in the background – “Quarantine on the Isle of Man and I’m trying to escape any way that I can” White yells as he expresses the anger once more, and the emotion filled song is so eclectic that the sweeping violin solo which closes the song doesn’t seem out of place at all.

White’s fury is best displayed in his guitar playing, and the arsenal of effects he utilises perfectly are evidence of this, whether it be simple distortions or repeated loops of his nervous cackle. The crunching solo on High Ball Stepper is one of the most exhilarating pieces of guitar playing that I’ve heard in a while, and he has his six-string screaming for mercy by the end of it – this backed with the eerie piano gives a surprisingly rough 4-minute assault on your ears.

Lazaretto is a solid sophomore album from Jack White, and a much heavier sample than that of his debut, Blunderbuss. White’s multiple voice tracking, especially on That Black Bat Licorice, pumps energy around you as you listen, harking back to his White Stripes days in which he produced pulverizing songs with his now ex-wife Meg – it indeed makes up for his sub-par, rather teenage-like lyrical prowess (if you’re looking for Bob Dylan style rock, this is not the album for you). White’s emotion explodes out of his guitar during simple licks or incredibly complex solos, and it cements his place as one of the best guitarists of the 21st Century.  

Score – 7/10

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

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