When blues rock

i was introduced to Jack White by a 2008 music documentary called It might get loud. The film documents the varied playing and recording styles of guitarists Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge and Jack White. While the other two were musical legends, White was the new guy in the film.

But in the first scene itself, White proves that if Page and Edge are legends past their prime, he is one in the making. Jack White’s music is like an attack on your senses. He bombards you with an arsenal of sounds and it’s up to the listeners what they make of it. It’s his pure musical ingenuity that manages to create an order within that cacophony of sounds that his guitar creates.

Ever since, I’ve followed his discography in great detail. Right from his work with bands like The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather to his collaborative work with the Buzzards and the Peacocks. In 2012, to the utter delight of his fans, White has embarked on a solo career. His first record Blunderbuss was a huge success both critically as well as commercially, a no-nonsense garage rock album filled with White’s signature guitar-heavy blues rock seasoned with folk sounds.

His new record, Lazaretto, is more drenched in blues-folk than any of his previous work. White trades his heavily distorted guitar-based music for a more fiddle-accommodating sound.

Opener Three Women is a reworking of a blues tune that’s nearly a century old. Ballads like Want & Able and Alone in My Home, feel pleasant, something not often seen on a Jack White record. And then the madcap energy of tracks like Black Bat Licorice and High Ball Stepper, remind you that the old Jack White is still somewhere there. The distorted garage riff of High Ball Stepper is so thick you can almost see it, taste it.

Song to song, White deliberately jumps back and forth between eras and tempos. There’s the sludgy savagery of the superb title track, which features one of the most thoroughly badass riffs White has ever penned. That’s followed by the Appalachian boy-girl duet Temporary Ground. Throughout the record, backing vocalist Ruby Amanfu does a tremendous job of fleshing out the album’s more tender moments. If there is something to nitpick on Lazaretto it may be the jarring nature of its sequencing. The 11 songs jump around in style, but wanes a bit after the halfway point. Still, the excellent melody of Alone in My Home should be enough to hold you over.

Jack White has been behind some of the fiercest and most memorable guitar work in the past 10 years. He has helped revive blues and garage rock with some dense guitar work that reminds you of slow blues and yet has that creative imagination to mould it into something that fits perfectly well in today’s musical landscape. He is without a doubt one of the last scions of blues rock today.

ranadityabaruah@mydigitalfc.com

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