Review Summary: Hasidic Chic
It's difficult to appropriate circumstances and context to Jack White's sophomore LP. Believe me, I've tried. Aside from the fact that the man was caught up in a damning Rolling Stone article and a series of offending emails, White keeps his cards so close to his chest that it stops us picky writers analyzing how his personal life impacts his art. In the end it leaves us with just the music and little else, and taken on that level Lazaretto
is a fine and respectable piece in its own right.
Typical blues fare dominates on White's sophomore solo record, trouncing any attempt the Black Keys have made at trying to resuscitate the genre on Turn Blue
. Generic misogyny is mined on "Three Women", White slithering around with all his sexual imposition and blues rock swagger. The singles for the record, the ironically mundane braggadocio of "Lazaretto" and an exercise in instrumental terror "High Ball Stepper", are easy standouts, boasting trademark White wit and dirty blues guitar lines.
However that's not say White is a one trick pony when it comes to stylistic turns- he makes clear strides into a far more diverse set of influences than those seen on Blunderbuss
. White himself engages occasional hip hop influences now, spitting lines of adolescent rhetoric reminiscent of Chuck D/Flavor Flav on "That Black Rat Licorice". Alternative country romp "Temporary Ground" is the most noticeable; with a guest spot from Lillie Mae Rische, White takes a typically stagnant and cheesy structure and turns it on its head, creating a subtle metaphor for the construction of ego in relation to lily pads. The same can be said of upbeat, jaunty piano rock of "Would You Fight for My Love?" and "Just One Drink"; adaptable to just about any style he can conjure up, pronounced folky tunes like "Alone in My Home" rub up well against more standard alternative rock numbers like "I Think I Found the Culprit".
When Turn Blue
arrived earlier this year, I commended it for its ability to stray from commercial expectations and produce something with a little more difficulty. Jack White has already had the benefit of growing up through his tenure in the White Stripes, and as an audience we can sense him being almost comfortable with himself in 2014. With a clear idea of the musician he wants to be, it would be a pleasure if more blues rock albums sounded like Lazaretto