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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - BRIAN BOYD

JACK WHITE

Lazaretto XL For his fol­low-up to the rollicking Blun­der­buss, Jack White went for “a potluck of sounds”, from garage rock to rock­a­billy to bad-ass coun­try rock. In other hands, this would be an am­bi­tious mess of hard-hit­ting Amer­i­cana. But White is ar­guably the most sin­gu­larly tal­ented mu­si­cian of his gen­er­a­tion – a mouthy, opin­ion­ated punk, maybe, but also an artist with a real aes­thetic op­tion.

There’s pas­sion aplenty on Lazaretto, along with the odd wigout and some midlife-cri­sis-style lyrics, mak­ing the al­bum a won­der­fully lay­ered work. But it’s the speed and dex­ter­ity of White’s ex­e­cu­tion that im­presses most.

The opener, Three Women, about “a red, a blonde and a brunette”, is su­per­charged blues that ups the tempo nicely and finds White in good vo­cal form. The ti­tle track is a bass-driven hard rock af­fair that will prove to be a live high­light.

Ap­palachian sounds clash with boo­gie-woo­gie and blues-rock to re­ally make the tracks soar. But White is at his best when he delves into coun­try id­ioms. He in­jects some adren­a­line into the genre with Tem­po­rary Ground and En­ti­tle­ment, and there’s a sweet­ness to the sounds that con­trasts well with the melodic bang and clat­ter found else­where.

On the stand-out track, Just One Drink. White sounds like Gram Parsons fronting The Rolling Stones. It’s bar-room blues with go-faster stripes and one of the best things he has ever done. Would You Fight For My Love is prob­a­bly the most au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal track: “It’s not enough that I love you/There’s all these things I have to prove over to you” White sings over a be­guil­ing piece of mu­sic.

Gui­tars screech and vo­cals yelp all over the shop as he lashes out at tar­gets, set­tles scores and even al­lows in some vi­o­lin so­los. At times White strug­gles to hold all the mu­si­cal stylings to­gether, but what gets him through is his ob­vi­ous rel­ish for this ma­te­rial.

Lazaretto is quite clearly an al­bum of the year con­tender and bound to find favour with re­cov­er­ing White Stripes fans. It’s a 100me­tre sprint of punk, blues, garage and coun­try, with enough va-vava-voom to leave the op­po­si­tion in the blocks. Down­load: Lazaretto, Just One Drink, En­ti­tle­ment, Tem­po­rary Ground

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