For his first solo effort, it was clear he wanted to separate this work from anything else he'd done in the past. He mixed in elements of his beloved rock and blues, but threw in some country and folk for good measure. While some of that is found here, it seems White is aiming for a country record. Most of the songs here are inspired by the genre from the music to the lyrics. This is first heard on “Temporary Ground,” which has a somber violin and a sweet acoustic guitar to provide a country feel with a bit of folk tossed in.
This influence can also be found on the tracks “Just One Drink,” “Alone in my Home,” and “Entitlement,” which has such a country twang it makes you think you put on a Willie Nelson record. White even adds a Southern drawl to his vocals. While the songs are good, they're not for everyone. You need to be in a certain mood to really get into most of these tracks, while others need to grow on you. It's these songs that may turn off most listeners. He at least sounds genuine on the songs and could probably pull off a country album easily.
Though there are some mellow tracks that may not appeal to everyone, there are some amazing songs that remind you why Jack White is a revered musician. “Lazaretto” has to be the best song on the LP. The weird, disjointed guitar riff gives it a funky rhythm that instantly gets under your skin. Here you can find more of a blues and rock sound as a raw Jack White tears away at this guitar like it's on fire. The way he plays and the way he says “My veins are blue and connected/every single bone in my brain is electric” makes him sound hungry for the music. Mid-way through the tempo slows down while the guitar wails as if someone is getting murder. It's a great track that shows the sheer power of the guitar player.
White takes listeners to church on “Three Women” with the hard music, passionate vocals, and the chorus of “Lordy Lord.” As he's singing about his different women, it sounds like he's preaching especially when the organ comes in. It seems to be inspired by his past relationships and it doesn't paint a pretty picture. “That Black Bat Licorice” is filled with arrogance and attitude in the best possible way. It's a full on blues song with unchained riffs and vocals White spits out like venom. Everything from his fast paced singing to the electricity running throughout the track gives it a hint of danger that you can't help but find sexy.
There's no doubt Jack White is talented; this album is proof. It's a solid record, but some of the slower songs that are obviously influenced by country and folk can instantly turn people off. They aren't bad tracks, but they aren't heavy hitting and memorable like the other songs found here. If anything these are songs that need to grow on the listener. It's understandable that White wants to avoid being labeled, but sometimes it has the tendency to alienate listeners.
"Lazaretto" is out now. To grab your copy, visit Jack White's website.