Jack White/ Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia, 2014)
Part purist artist and part carnival huckster, Jack White is probably the best thing going on in mainstream music today. While there are interesting things going on in various corners of music, Jack has somehow managed to get this to the people. More power to him. I always chuckle at how he manages to find new uses for old technology, wrenching fresh sounds from vintage gear.
On the surface it's the rockers and groovers that grab me first. Those are the things that catch me right away. Lazaretto and That Black Bat Licorice fit the bill. There is a percussive, almost Hip Hop vibe to many of these songs. There are times where the drums are really all over the place, and I guess it is only natural to think about how these songs would have sounded if Meg White were anchoring them with a simpler beat. I'll admit it, I miss The White Stripes and would love to see them again someday, even if it were “only for the money”.
Would You Fight For My Love? reminds me of ABBA. High Ball Stepper is crap, self indulgent B-side fodder for Vault members. Alone In My Home sounds like it could have come from Get Behind Me, Satan, it is so comfortable and familiar.
Jack has been in Nashville too long, methinks. While the country influence has long been a part of his sound it has not been the dominant factor of his sound until now. My wife cringed at how “twangy this is”. I enjoy a lot of Country-inflected Rock like Neil Young, etc., but purist Country like this leaves me cold. Jack could always go the sell out route and go full blown country if he wanted to I guess. I just miss the teeth and grit of the old stuff. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the album. I did. Sometimes what an artist does and what one wants from an artist doesn't coincide. That's okay.
I picked this up on CD, still my format of choice in spite of the vinyl and mp3 revolution. The digipak has a true hub and a booklet with lyrics, etc. The coating on the cardboard has a bizarre waxy feel to it unlike any other CD that I own, and I have a wall full of them. It's interesting that a known vinyl purist would put such consideration into the packaging of a compact disc. The two or three dozen compact disc buyers of the world appreciate it, though.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.