Jack White has had a rocky few months. First he calls Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) an “asshole” and then labels ex-wife, and ex-drummer of The White Stripes, Meg White a “hermit”. Both events have inadvertently raised the profile of new record Lazaretto, released on White’s own label Third Man Records with XL Recordings and Columbia.
It’s fair to say the music hasn’t been plain sailing either. The opening two tracks ‘Three Women’ and ‘Lazaretto’, though, both have astonishing guitar riffs as well as his trademark punchy vocals, seemingly picking up where 2012 Blunderbuss left off.
However, it’s naïve to think this record is imitating its predecessor. White clumsily explores an acoustic sound. ‘Temporary Ground’ sounds like it fills an empty space, with ‘Alone in my Home’ akin to a forgettable campfire ballad.
That being said, White does sometimes get it right. The meandering ‘Would You Fight For My Love?’ is excellent. He does, though, remain most potent doing what he knows best: producing raw rock songs with searing vocals, best shown on ‘That Black Bat Licorice’.
On Lazaretto, Jack White is stuck awkwardly between greatness and mediocrity. It remains to be seen, with a huge Glastonbury Pyramid slot to come, how live audiences will react to this deviation from his usual imperiousness.