1 | The meaning of Lazaretto
We’re sure you knew that it’s a quarantine station or a prison ship on which unwanted visitors can be detained, but excuse us for having missed that particular lesson in maritime history. It’s also the name of Jack White’s second solo record, out this month.
2 | Jack White still loves the blues
Everything the Detroit musician has done — from The White Stripes to Dead Weather to The Ranconteurs — has had blues at its heart. True to form, Lazaretto opens with “Three Women”, a version of a 1928 blues tune by Blind Willie McTell, though White has added funked-out keys, natty bass and tastefully refreshed lyrics (ie, “I got three wimmins/Yallar, brown and black” becomes “I got three women/Red, blonde and brunette”).
3 | But he also loves country
Though Lazaretto has plenty of the kind of heavy rock riffs Jack White is known for (not for nothing do sports fans around the world chant the opening bars of “Seven Nation Army”), there’s also lilting fiddle-fuelled existentialism (“Temporary Ground”), doomed honky-tonk romanticism (“Alone In My Home”) and sexy-yet-rollicking alcoholism (“Just One Drink”).
4 | Jack White speaks Spanish
Or maybe he doesn’t, but still “Yo trabajo duro/Como en madera y yeso” from the title track will become your new favourite singalong Spanish phrase since “Soy un perdedor”. (It means “I work hard/Like wood and plaster”, in case anyone asks.)
5 | That women do neat stuff, too!
We jest, of course. We knew that already.
As did White, and perhaps as a riposte to the sexism accusations thrown at his last record — and a nod to the opening track of this one — he dedicates it to three formidable females: Florence Green, the last surviving veteran of World War 1; Voltairine de Cleyre, a late 19th-early 20th-century anarchist and radical feminist and “Amazing” Grace Hopper, a US Navy rear admiral and computing pioneer.
6 | Jack White can rap
Or do shouty-singing anyway, and it isn’t hard to imagine lyrics such as “When I need to know/I play dumb like Columbo/And get my feelings hurt/And move to New York like I’m Dumbo” (from “That Black Bat Licorice”), coming from a battle-scarred MC Jay Dubs in the house.
7 | He’s one conflicted guy
The binary impulses that gave Jack White’s last album such an electrifying charge — to control or to submit; to believe or to doubt; to love or to fight — are as present as ever and embodied in final track “Want and Able”, an acoustic ditty in which Jack White performs a duet with… Jack White.
May the best man win.
Lazaretto by Jack White is out on 10 June (Third Man Records/XL Recordings)