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Jack White got into hot water (yes, again) with a recent Rolling Stone cover story in which he claimed that Meg White, his former White Stripes partner, never supported him the way he had wanted, and reiterated his contention that the Black Keys have cut and pasted his sound. The subsequent eye-rolling prompted White to explain and apologize — well, sort of — on his website.

Truth is, his only crime was saying that stuff on the record. It's his chutzpah and swagger that make him the kind of artist who could create an album as singular as his latest. "Lazaretto," his second solo album (after 2012's "Blunderbuss"), is his latest roller coaster ride through the back alleys of American roots music. Rural blues, lonesome country, visceral hard rock: It's all here, fashioned in true Jack White style.


Songs don't unfold in expected structures; they erupt, recoil, and then ride some jagged riff into another direction entirely. Instrumental "High Ball Stepper " is among the most mind-numbing things he's written: equal parts spaghetti-western interlude and psychedelic metal detour.

Meanwhile, the bluesy stomp of opening cut “Three Women” is the perfect setup for the album’s high point, the title track. Also the first single, it bulldozes through the speakers, heavy on fuzzed-out funk, curdled guitar lines, and White’s ragged yelps and howls. You don’t know what just hit you — but you’d like to hear it again. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL "Lazaretto"