For the follow-up to his solo debut, 2012’s Blunderbuss, Jack White has created another fine record that still draws on many influences but presents a more coherent ‘Jack White sound’.
Much like Blunderbuss this certainly feels like the natural evolution of White’s work in The White Stripes, rather than any of the other bands he’s played with, as it pulls in sounds from many sources. This sonic diversity is really summed up with a sense of geography.
As his career has gone on White has, physically, moved from Detroit to Nashville and that is clearly evident as a good portion of Lazaretto has a real countrified Nashville sound, but with an underlying feel of the Detroit garage that made his name. Added to this is now is a sprinkle of the sound of Sun Records out of Memphis and something of New Orleans too.
This collection has, compared to much of his previous output, something of a greater focus for White and leads to the album have a much more coalesced sound which is cut through by the distinctive crackly fuzz distorted guitar that has made his name along with the vintage organ and electric piano sounds that have also become something of his trademark.
The development of White’s sound continues on the second half of the album where, after a brief return to the Spaghetti Western style sounds seen on The White Stripes Icky Thump, there is something of an added sweetness to the tones on offer.
This is something a bit new for White and, while it adds a diversity to the sound, it is still laced through with the darkness that drives the album’s bluesier notes making for a few songs that vary things well. Still this doesn’t lose the more cohesive sound White has across the record and shows a development in his work.
In the end its harder to say which of Lazaretto and Blunderbuss is the more successful record as, while Lazaretto certainly shows a growth and greater confidence from White in terms of his own unique sound, and is probably the easier listen of the two, Blunderbuss possibly had a little more depth to it as a whole.
Honestly though this is something of a minor quibble as Lazaretto is yet another great record from White and really shows how classic Americana sounds can be combined to create something new nearly a century after many of those sounds were first committed to tape.