The back story for Jack White’s second solo album Lazaretto is unusually lengthy, especially for a man who’s celebrated as one of rock’s most immediate, from-the-gut voices—someone who’s known to spend less time crafting a record than some people squander in choosing a bottle of wine. If we believe the press release (and the man has been prone to spinning tales), work began shortly after the release of his solo bow Blunderbuss in 2012, when he discovered a pile of one-page short stories and plays in his attic, written in Detroit half his lifetime ago, at age 19. With a bit of cutting and pasting, adding and deleting, these tales became the basis for 11 tracks recorded (on analog tape, of course) with permutations of the two alternating bands from the Blunderbuss tour.
If the last disc held a few surprises just by virtue of the fact that we were hearing White out on his own for the first time, the emotions and sounds here—lulling/seductive (“Entitlement”), lustfully braggadocious “Three Women”), or angry (the title track); raw (“High Ball Stepper”), soulful (“Temporary Ground”), or funky (“That Black Bat Licorice”), and always melodically potent—are familiar to anyone with a passing acquaintance to the White Stripes’ catalog. But more of the same from White hardly is a problem when it’s more of the same that’s this consistently rewarding.
Jack White, Lazaretto (Third Man/XL/Columbia)
Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.