Album Review: Jack White, 'Lazaretto'

'Lazaretto', Jack White's second solo album, releases on June 10, 2014.
'Lazaretto', Jack White's second solo album, releases on June 10, 2014. (© 2014 Columbia Records.)

In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine published David Fricke's list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time. Ahead of the many rock and blues legends that inspired the music of The White Stripes, the trusted prophet of rock and roll listed Jack White at number 17. The official Rolling Stone list placed White at number 70. If that list was redrafted in 2015, White's spot would undoubtedly be closer to the Fricke list.

Regardless of how you would rank Jack White against his predecessors and contemporaries, his music and impact on independent rock will stand up to the test of time. The short but impressive career of The White Stripes overshadowed White's other musical endeavors up until the release of his debut solo album, Blunderbuss. It's a career step many musicians mishandle and take too lightly. For Jack White, that step was taken with precision and grace. Blunderbuss encapsulated White's strengths as a guitarist who respects the tradition of rock and roll. He is acutely aware that it's all been done before, so borrow and improve on the best.

White's sophomore solo album builds on his already impressive musical talent. Lazaretto is a step away from White's repertoire of guitar riffs and re-imagined blues clichés. Instead, Lazaretto channels the voices, music and instruments White has mastered as a professor of the rock tradition. Without abandoning his signature guitar sound, Lazaretto celebrates the folk, blues and country sounds of White's recently newfound home of Nashville, Tenn. It's evident that his creative efforts to redefine the idea of a boutique label and record store has bled into his musical ambitions. When you listen to Lazaretto, remember that White has become a prolific writer, producer and songwriter. His musical abilities on Lazaretto cast light on his beginnings with The White Stripes and the potential for what in the years ahead.

Have you heard the album? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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