Lazaretto by Jack White (Album of the Week)

 


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Album: Lazaretto

Artist: Jack White

Year: 2014

Details: 11 songs; 40 minutes

Who’s Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

Of course I will like an album named Lazaretto. Lazarettos were quarantined areas, oftentimes islands, that would hold individuals with communicable diseases. Just knowing a little about Jack White, it seems that he doesn’t cotton to the world that most of us inhabit. The idea of a quarantined existence probably suits him well. There he could sit around writing wickedly strong lyrics and mesh them with creative arrangements. That’s what happened in this Lazaretto.

Dan writes that “after spending one week with this album that it is going to stay with me as one of the best albums in my collection.” Wow! While we won’t be bickering this week, I won’t go as far as him in praising this album. 

Lazaretto is a fun musical trip into Jack White’s world. He is one creative dude, and he is a detail man. The vinyl version of this album expands this release into a whole performance piece. Music-wise, he brings 11 tracks with different styles that, I think, work as a whole. It sounds really good too. From minute to minute, there are pretty violin tracks, snappy drum lines, organ riffs, bluesy harmonica, honky tonk piano, fine guitar, etc, etc. You can get caught up in just listening to how it is put together. It does feel like it is recorded to do just that.

The opener “Three Women” is inspired by a blues song by Blind WIllie McTell “Three Women Blues.” It spins the story of carrying on with three women and not being able or wanting to make a choice. For this one, he pulls off the style and the saga by making it sound like he is having fun with it. You can almost hear him smiling as he sings “lawdy, lawdy, Yeah, I wish I could tell you just what my three women do / But if I open my mouth, well, that’ll be three women I lose.”

Ballad singing is not something that I would have expected from this album, but that is there too. Jack White ballads aren’t, however, sweet lovey, dovey songs. They too seep Jack White cynicism and attitude. Entitlement is cautionary tale noting that we get fed lines that the world is ours, but it really isn’t that way. As soon as you try to do it your way, you get hollered at to knock it off. 

What turns this album from a fun listen to a great one, are those crafty lyrics that pepper the whole album. Things like “she writes letters like a Jack Chick comic/ Just a bunch of propaganda. makes my fingers histrionic,” and this: “want and able are two different things/ one is desire, and the other is the means” make me both want to search Wikipedia and seek out more Jack White. Lawdy, lawdy!

Up Next: Put the Needle Down by The Secret Sisters

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