One Track Mind: Jack White, “Lazaretto” from Lazaretto (2014)

With the second, and title track, from forthcoming Lazaretto album, Jack White makes a bold move away from the amped-up blues of the initial “High Ball Stepper.”

Oh, the monaurally mangled, dead-language titled “Lazaretto” — part of White’s long-awaited follow up to 2012’s terrific Blunderbuss — is still amped up. But instead White launches from there into something as wild-eyed as it is modern, a compilation of textures, yelped lyrics and huge grooves that seems to know no rules. Or, maybe more particular, Jack White knows the rules, and he’s bold enough to smash them to pieces on “Lazaretto.”

He sounds, by turns, a foot-stamping EDM howler monkey, a sideways-hatted rapper (“born rot’en!”), a post-modern Zeppelin cock rocker, Brian Wilson on one of his weirder trips, and then an amphetamined-out bluegrass coolster. And yet somehow — through the force, I guess, of White’s own personality — it works. He’s the roux that holds this crazy-ass gumbo together, the glue on what would appear to be a very rickety construct. Maybe because he’s the only constant in a roiling sea of musical tidbits, weird left turns and fizzy creative outbursts.

On consecutive listens to this lickety-split track, I’m not sure I got any closer to finding a category for “Lazaretto.” And that’s maybe the biggest compliment of all.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
  • Taomom

    This description resonates with me. It’s the best I’ve read yet of Jack’s new track. Thanks, Nick!