Lazaretto Music Poster Image

Lazaretto

(i)

 

Dark, quirky, original blend of rock, country, and blues.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a dark literary record inspired by a collection of writings Jack White rediscovered in his attic, decades after he wrote them as a 19-year-old. Budding musicians or writers may find the highly original and thoughtful work a testament to the power of young art to endure -- as well as be encouraged to archive their own creative output. 

Positive role models

Jack White is an honest and emotional singer and songwriter who does not pander to commercial tastes in popular music. His passion and integrity are rare and refreshing, even if the messages in many of these songs are dark and depressing.

Violence

Dark, violent imagery is used symbolically throughout the album. In the lyrically opaque song "That Black Bat Licorice," there's the clearly metaphorical line "I want to cut out my tongue and let you hold on to it for me." 

Sex

Some mild innuendo in the song "Three Women": "These women must be getting something / 'cause they come and see me every night." "Would You Fight For My Love" mentions "making love when there is nobody home."

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The rocking tune "Just One Drink" has a couple of archaic references to alcoholic drinks one occasionally hears in old blues songs: "rock and rye" and "wine spodie-odie." The song paints a picture of a disconnected couple, and it does not appear that the "drink" in the title is helping matters (but it's vague).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Jack White's Lazaretto is a quirky contemporary rock album with country, blues, and some heavy metal shadings, by the former leader of the popular indie/alternative band The White Stripes. Most of the songs deal with emotional pain of some sort -- whether from broken relationships, existential angst ("I'm...becoming a ghost so nobody can know me"), or spiritual uncertainty; it's a dark journey, for sure. The lyrics are cryptic in places, occasionally bordering on the impenetrable, but repeated listening will reveal new shades of meaning for those willing to make the effort. Some of the rhythms and instrumental textures are edgy and at times jarring, but there also are​ melodic tunes that show White's pop inclinations and his love for traditional country music. 

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

LAZARETTO is the second solo album (after 2012's Blunderbuss) from noted Nashville-based singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Jack White, who's best known as the driving force behind the White Stripes (as well as the short-lived groups The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather). Musically, the album shows White's fascination with American roots music -- especially country and blues -- as well as more modern rock, including bands such as Led Zeppelin and various "garage rock" antecedents. Lyrically, most of the songs deal with some sort of emotional insecurity and confusion, loneliness, and self-doubt -- not too surprising, given that creating the album was spurred by White's discovery of some stories and plays he'd written when he was a (presumably) fragile 19-year-old.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Whether he's fronting a band or making an album under his own name, Jack White sounds like no one else in modern rock. His distinctive high voice, his quirky variations on traditional song forms (unusual and unpredictable tempo changes, sudden textural shifts in instrumentation, or the coloration of his always-fascinating guitar parts) make him a true original. From a lyrical perspective, White seems a bit lost on Lazaretto -- uncomfortable with who he is, unsure of what he should do, and confused, detached, and disappointed with the sorry state of the world and mankind. 

Lazaretto is an emotionally dark album, but there are beautiful parts, too, and the writing is always compelling and clearly honest. Jack White's supporters should love this album. Neophytes might find it too strange and unsettling, as it's not a conventional album at all. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about American roots music. Why do you think the blues and country continue to have such an influence on rock?

  • How do you think Lazaretto compares with Jack White's work with the White Stripes?

  • Do you think this kind of emotionally dark music appeals to teens? Why, or why not?

Music details

Artist:Jack White
Release date:June 17, 2014
Type:Album
Label:Columbia
Genre:Rock
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of Lazaretto was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Raw and raucous rock for adventurous teens.
  • Quirky and raw; many teens will enjoy.
  • Powerful solo effort relates violence to emotional pain.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written byCole Y. November 13, 2015

Sometimes Dark and Always Quirky

A thoroughly enjoyable album for those who appreciate music technically as well as personally. This album has both complexity and, at times, an ear-worm (catchy) quality. Perfectly fine for children; there is nothing particularly explicit or violent. There are some slightly adult themes sprinkled here and there, but nothing particularly mature.
Teen, 15 years old Written byRocket Slug July 8, 2015

Como en madera y yeso

John Anthony Gillis, better known as Jack White, is a relevant and renowned musician. Known for his quirkiness - his resilient, angry face and typical messed-up hair at a baseball game, his simple request for "no bananas" at a concert that turned to chaos and people calling him a diva, his obsession with the number 3, and his tendency to use vintage styles of recording (The White Stripes smash hit "Elephant" was recorded on a reel-to-reel, and Lazaretto was done entirely on analog and edited with an Exacto knife), Jack White is definitely a force to be reckoned with. On his sophomore attempt, Lazaretto, well...it's certainly not his best work, in my opinion. A lazaretto is defined as a hospital or a sort of exile for those who have highly contagious diseases, and this album mainly reflects on the concepts of being trapped or confined. "Any place where there's a time to clear my vision." The album opens up on "Three Women", a bluesy riff about a narrator being tasked to pick, well, one woman from the three in front of him - a redhead, a blond, and a brunette. "It took a digital photograph to pick which one I liked," he recalls - so unlike Jack! Hence why he didn't write the song from his perspective. It's fairly solid, with some sweet little riffs courtesy of White himself, but it's nothing to write home about. "Lazaretto" could be considered the lost White Stripes song, the missing link - but with more than just Meg's simple little drum beats behind Jack's pulsing, screeching guitar noises. It's powerful, earth-shattering - one of Jack's best songs. "Temporary Ground" may come as a shock to former Stripes fans. Yes, the Stripes have dabbled in country-esque music (Hotel Yorba comes to mind), but they never seemed to divert from their roots of blues rock, punk rock, and garage rock. It opens up to a hauntingly beautiful violin, played by Lillie Mae Rische, who also carries her weight as an excellent vocalist and counterpart to Jack's imperfect and rough vocals. Yes, it's startling to hear country music, but it works to Jack's advantage. "Would You Fight For My Love?" was one of the four singles from the album. The music video stars Jack, with (gasp!) short hair, in a bar that is decked out in all blue. The scene is dull, starring Jack continuously droning on about wanting someone to fight for his love. We get it, Jack - you've been through two divorces. But both of them were most likely your fault. Get over it, you had enough time to brood and act emo when you were a White Stripe. "High Ball Stepper" left me confused after hearing it for the first time. I was upset, disappointed. It sounded like just noise to me, screeching guitars overlayed with violins. And not to mention, the single was released April 1st of last year - it felt like a joke. But after hearing it more and more often, I grew accustomed to it. It's not the best, but it seems to work as a crunchy, raw tune. Think of the White Stripes track "Aluminum", but remove Jack's overedited, machine-based vocalization and add more violins. "I drink water, you drink gasoline/One of us is happy, one of us is mean", Jack explains on the track "Just One Drink". It's a country-rock fusion and a duet, but it's fairly powerful, and maybe one of my favorites from the album. "Alone in my Home" is another country-esque song, but with plenty of sweet little piano tunes played throughout. But it's fairly dark lyrically. It shows the inner struggles withing Jack's soul, but, fun fact: most of the inspiration from this album came from a journal Jack wrote at 19. This album predated much of his music career. While we can assume that it all comes from his young-adult emotions, it would be fair to say that maybe half of it is based on his old writings. But I don't know. Who knows for sure? One thing I do know is that "Alone in my Home" is fairly ironic because it sounds upbeat and chipper but with twisted, dark lyrics. "Entitlement" is fairly unique, but it gets a bit repetitive - even with logical, meaningful lyrics. "We don't deserve a single damn thing," Jack sings at the end, seemingly coming to a realization about people who are privileged and entitled, to the point where material objects mean nothing to him. He says this in a way, as if he's reflecting on a hard day's work, having trekked up a hill and is now sitting, watching the sunset, guitar in hand. "That Black Bat Licorice" is one of the most unique songs for multiple reasons. First, the song hits you like a punch in the face, or a nice break from all of the countrified music, depending on your view of the situation. Secondly, it describes a struggle unique to White himself - the desire to clear his mind and his vision, take a break from the electronic-overriden, materialistic, and mad world. Even if it means he's being locked up, hospitalized, imprisoned, enlisted in armies. But hey - all in the name of clearing your mind, right? "I Think I Found The Culprit" bores me half to sleep. It just lacks meaning to me. Yes, it's good musically, but I'm not feeling like I did the first time hearing "Black Bat Licorice" - or even my first time hearing some of the more "emo" White Stripes songs (Most of White Blood Cells is fairly reflective and emotional, that's what I'm referring to when I call the group emo). "Want And Able" would be one of my favorites, if not for Jack's vocals. He layered his vocals, one being his typical lowish singing voice and the other almost a falsetto. It's grating, to say the least, especially compared to his singing in the White Stripes. Before the cigarettes and screaming hit his vocal cords, he could hit high notes with ease - his voice was fairly feminine in the early days. But now it just hurts to listen to. Vocals aside, though, it's fantastic lyrically, with the repetitive verse "Who is the who, telling who what to do?" I don't know, Jack, maybe we'll figure it out someday.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?