23 June 2014

Jack White - Lazaretto

Well the story of Jack White has been told many times before on different blogs and publications, that it feels like a waste of time doing it here.  But, I do tend to give a brief history in regards to an artist/band when I do a bog; so I will give a brief history -Jack White (born John Anthony Gillis) was born in 1975 and has had a successful career by many standards.  He was part of the White Stripes with his wife/sister/who knows which toured the world to great acclaim; the man's side projects (The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, etc) are also successful, as is his record label Third Man records.  He has made many successful collaborations with people such as Van Morrison, Electric Six, Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan and others.  You would think he would be a happy man, but recently (and on other occasions) his personal life and arguments with other bands and people seems to be more in focus than his musical adventures.  It is times like these when some people would say that there is no such thing as bad publicity (especially if you have an album coming out).  However, the album also has to stand up as well.  Now apart from a few songs here and there, I have never really had the love for Jack White that some of my friends and colleagues do; some of his stuff has been very pretentious for me.  But in the spirit of things such as trying something different, I will give this a spin and see if it is worth the fuss that the indie press has been giving it.....

Starting with "Three Women", the southern blues is in full flow on this record.  Almost gospel and folk in places, it is a clever opening which covers all of Mr White's leanings.  Obviously as it is a full band, it is much fuller than the White Stripes, but it seems to have a better soul than the Raconteurs for me. It is built on a simple piano and guitar combination that makes for, let's say an interesting beginning.  Title track "Lazaretto" is next and continues the basic album 101 - take the first song and up the ante.  I have to admit the solo in the middle of this song is fantastic, the boy can play and this is much more in the blues section of White's mind set.  There is also a little bit of a funk in the mix as well.  "Temporary Ground" again from basic record 101 - take the mood down a notch, don't peak too early; the country song with bring the rock in.  I find it a bit of a filler track, my mind drifted over all the listens to review the song and I am still struggling to remember much of it.  "Would You Fight For My Love?" is next and the start could be used for a modern western, all drama at the beginning, then silence followed by a moody and bitter song that makes "Temporary Ground" even more forgettable.  However, I am still finding the album to stalling a little after the opening bravado, even though this is a good try.

"High Ball Steeper" is another slice of drama in a tea cup that is starting to show a limited selection from Mr White.  Whilst I cannot fault his playing and the man knows a guitar and how to make it howl, the song is much more engaging as well with the oft kilter string section and tripping piano splattered like blood on the wall; but I am not hearing anything that I have not heard from the man before and it is not as exciting as it is being made out to be. "Just One Drink" is somewhere between shite and garbage - less said the better apart from this; Tom Waits does this sort of thing much better.  "Alone In My House" is a folk number that works a hell of a lot better, it is just simple and strums along nicely.  Again, it is not making the world change; but this is not what this song is about.  It is just a simple tune that is to be sung along to in a festival or show, maybe he should keep it simple more often.

"Entitlement" is a slow country number with a slide guitar beginning and is a pleasant number which will be done to bring the audience down and reflective.  Again, it is played very well but just like the all conquering Robert Plant/Alison Krauss 'Raising Sand' album, it is so dull and boring that I tuned out again. "That Black Bat Licorice" has the blues/garage rock back in effect and whilst it is not doing much for me personally, it is a light speed improvement on "Entitlement" and some of the other tracks here.  It is not the best track on the album, yet at least it seems to make some sort of sense and have a wonderful solo near the end that wraps around the main riff.  "I Think I Found The Culprit" has the country mood making another appearance and it is much better on repeated listens; it is not my thing, but I have a feeling that this is a recurring theme for me and Mr White.  Ending the album is "Want & Able" which is starts with strange shouting and then Mr White leads a piano into the song into a sort of tribute to songs such as "Abide With Me" and that Christian hymn that everyone knows, but they have forgotten the original source.  It ends the album in a way which is probably most fitting as I will explain.....

This album is well played, I cannot not fault there or with his drive (although I do think he should pick a style and stick to it); but once again Jack White has made an album which is more Emperors’ new clothes than Emperor's triumph.  There is nothing on here which I have not heard done better by other people, nothing new or original, and nothing innovative or even outside of his usual comfort zone to make it even bearable.  I have tried with many of his works, some have been better than others but it just does not fit with me.  When he keeps it simple, that is when he is at his best; but he tries to be a clever man and it might sound great to the hipsters and then I remember the great time I had with a hernia.  The reason "Want & Able" is most fitting to end the album is that it shows what Mr White is trying to do the most - take pictures of the past and keep it that way.  Only thing is that at one point, you have to move on.

3 out of ten - Not for everyone but played well

Best Track - Lazaretto

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Jack White website here

Here is a link to his artist page on Third Man Records

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for Deezer users...

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