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Jack White - 2014

Is it ok with you if we just skip the usual part of the review where I give a little intro to the artist? I think we all know plenty about Jack’s background. I think it is a bit important to discuss where we are in Jack’s career today however, to put this album into the proper context. He’s proven to be a seriously important force in rock n’ roll. In an era where rock is largely missing from the musical landscape, Jack not only puts out an album with one of his various bands almost every year, but he produces tons of music for other artists, reissues back catalogue albums on Third Man Records, and has been a driving force in the rebirth of the vinyl industry. Jack is a rock legend at this point. While I am an admitted fanboy, I would agree that it’s been a while since we had something truly great from Jack’s own musical output. (not counting the aforementioned production credits, many of which have been brilliant) His last album, 2012’s solo release, “Blunderbuss” was a disappointment. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s certainly uninspired. He has now followed it up with his second solo effort, “Lazaretto”, and the results are a bit mixed. The album starts strong, with the 12 bar blues track, “Three Women”. The tracks rocks, while switching between riffs and breaks, with his drummer slamming his kit as if he’s angry at it. There’s rollicking piano and harmonica, which keeps the energy up throughout. The problem hits you in the chorus however. When you write songs, you’ll often piece together your structure, and if you don’t have a chorus yet, you’ll lay down a temporary track to fill the space until you have a chance, or the inspiration, to record the permanent one. I feel like Jack forgot to go back and write the lyrics for the REAL chorus. After such a strong beginning, to just sing, “lordy-lord” over and over again as a chorus is a big disappointment. Even if The White Stripes were never known for their lyrics, the songs at least felt like they belonged. The second track is the big single, “Lazaretto”. This is one of my absolute favorite tracks of the year. It doesn’t really invent anything new, but it’s got great hooks, driving instrumentation, and the catchiest verse on the album. The lyrics are almost rapped over the verse, there’s a violin solo, and a riff-rock breakdown. LOVE IT! The third track, “Temporary Ground”, is where we get the first taste of the country vibe that will appear at times throughout the rest of the album. While the track isn’t going to win any awards for the lyrics, it sounds great, and once again the band is stellar. It’s not a song I’l listen to on it’s own, but I also wouldn’t skip it. The instrumental “High Ball Stepper” was the first single released from the album. It’s pretty great as a middle point to the album. It has a dark, almost Ennio Morricone vibe to it, while still being purely Jack. It’s a nice twist to release an instrumental track as the first taste of the album. Typical of JW to keep us on our toes a bit. “Just One Drink” is another country rocker. It’s a decent song, but you do get a little confused about what type of album this is supposed to be when it goes from track to track. One of Jack’s best qualities is his range of influences, but it feels a little like its a bunch of songs squashed together. “Alone In My Home” is piano based song that has an upbeat vibe mixed with dark lyrics about wanting to hide from the outside world. It’s kind of a darker version of a Steve Forbert song of all things. “The Black Bat Licorice” is another awesome rocker. It’s catchy as hell, dark and demented, and the band again is fantastic. A whole album of this sound would have been awesome. It’s heavy, with overdriven guitars, piano, violin and mandolin. The violin/mandolin don’t sound like a country song on this track, they just compliment the sound. It just sounds like a rock band that has those instruments in it. The next track “I Think I Found The Culprit” is another track like "Black Bat Licorice”, where the piano, violins, etc. fit into a unique rock band sound. “Want and Able”, which ends the album, is a piano/guitar ballad that Jack duets with himself on. It’s decent. It’s not going to make or break the album. The sound and playing on this album are both on point. The tracks that work, work well. If I produced this album I would fix the chorus to the first track, then include Lazaretto, High Ball, Black Bat, Culprit, and maybe Want and Able. Jack would have to write a few more songs that mesh with the sound of these ones and he’d be all set. The country tracks aren’t all that bad, but they don’t fit in with the rest. As usual, Jack’s mediocre work is as good as most other’s better work. I’m still excited to see what he does next, and I’m sure he has another brilliant album left in him.

Posted by Tambe



This is an unusual review format for you - track by track (your Roots review was more the Tambe I know). Makes me feel as though the album overall is lacking in something. For me, every time I hear a Jack White song (such as the one above) I just think, 'oh yeah, that's clearly Jack White'. That's not a good thing. It's just all funky-rock with some sort of riff for the verse and chords for the chorus. It's not bad, it's just my ears have already heard his mostly one note melody lines on every verse he's ever done. Granted, I've only ever heard what he has released so if you can point me towards something other than what I already know of Mr White then please do. I'm in the mood.

Posted over 5 years ago by MoiAndrew Scott

There are country tracks on here and piano stuff. That's part of the miss/mash feel of the album that I don't like.

Posted over 5 years ago by TambegifTambe

Posted: 06/28/2014

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