Lazaretto (Third Man / Columbia Records)
Reviewed by Tim Stegall, Fri., June 20, 2014
Jack WhiteLazaretto (Third Man/Columbia Records)
Through the Raconteurs and Dead Weather, past the White Stripes, Jack White's given off a decidedly Prince-like vibe: genius multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, sharp dresser, off-kilter musical architect getting stranger all the time in the Paisley Park-style laboratory of his Third Man Records complex in Nashville. Lazaretto spring-loads such a dense vortex of ideas and sounds you'd best duck when the kitchen sink comes flying. Recorded with a mix of the gender-exclusive groups White toured with behind 2012 solo debut Blunderbuss, its follow-up once again floats a funky Led Zeppelin, particularly on Lazaretto's title track, seasoned with elements of the Stripes' "Blue Orchid." "High Ball Stepper" kicks up an instrumental master class of a smörgåsbord of guitar tones, with Middle Eastern and even Cecil Taylor free jazz flavoring. Better still, Blind Willie McTell's bawdy "Three Women" transforms into explicit rock & roll complete with pedal steel and retro-fit with lyrics about digital photography. Expansive cross-pollination at its finest, Lazaretto's dizzying Pandora's box of funk, blues, and hillbilly soul shakes and bakes enough to require a shrink-wrapped bottle of Dramamine.