To some extent, you know what you’re going to get with a Jack White record. ‘Lazaretto’, White’s second studio album, is no exception with most of the old trademarks present. Raucous riffing and squealing solos? Check. Weird, jarring lyrics? Check. And, rising above it all, you get White’s signature hair raising yelp. Although, there’s also a marked emphasis on the mellower side of his sound, with White leading a healthy number of tracks on acoustic guitar.
White takes advantage of having not one but TWO backing bands. The all male Buzzards and the female Peacocks add texture to his blues-rock with flourishes of fiddle, pedal steel and vocal harmonies providing a nice change of pace on third track ‘Temporary Ground’.
Sitting in the middle of the album ‘High Ball Stepper’ is one of the most engrossing instrumentals heard on a rock album with the pitch-shifted guitars taking the place of White’s howling voice. It’s a great piece of music not to mention a ballsy choice for the lead promo track for the album. ‘Just One Drink’ seems a cute sister song to ‘It’s True That We Love One Another’ of White Stripes fame, complete with fiddle, honky-tonk piano and bright harmony from Ruby Amanfu.
It’s definitely worth mentioning the fine cover and liner artwork that accompany the CD version, featuring spooky blue-tinged photographs of White and assorted members of the Buzzards and Peacocks as well as a fantastic ‘screenplay’ titled ‘The Admitting of Patience,’ a deep and unexpectedly emotive intro to the lyrics book.
While ‘Lazaretto’ is not a groundbreaking departure, it showcases White’s blossoming collaboration with his backing musicians, and more interestingly, an insight into a very traditional musician navigating his way through the digital age.