If only we all were the same kind of bad as you, Tom Waits…

25 Dec

There is never a dull moment with Tom Waits, least of all his latest album, Bad As Me. From fast-paced, hurry-up-and-get-on-the-damn-train bustle of opening track “Chicago” to “New Year’s Eve”: its slow, accordion-led ending track,  the album is a rich and embellished portfolio of Waits’ deft and devilish dabbling in a variety of musical styles, vocal techniques and different musical instruments.

In addition to the deep Jazz and Blues roots that extend their foliage to dapple all of Waits’ music in their shade, Bad As Me also contains elements of Country and European Folk music (also known as “listen, that’s a French accordion!”), as well as songs that cleanly fit into more modern genres like old-school Rock ‘n Roll number “Get Lost”, and classic Hard-Rock track “Satisfied”.

A particularly impressive feature of this album is Waits’ vocal versatility. In “Talking at the Same Time”, Waits sings in a sensitive – albeit still somewhat smoke-screened – falsetto, and in “Get Lost” he cranks his voice up to a choppy,  high-pitched gravel-grind that sounds like the lovechild of a dog’s growl and a wolf’s howl. Other songs, of course, feature Waits’ signature low-pitched, bourbon-soaked grunt.

In amongst Waits’ usual eerie and sinisterly-truthful lyrics are some enriching intertexual references, for example his hailing of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in “Satisfied”, and his commentary on and adaptation of “Auld Lang Syne” in “New Year’s Eve”.

Tom Waits’ Bad As Me has no filler-tracks. Every song is layered, finished and unique in its musical presentation and has its own story to tell in its lyrics. This is definitely an album worth listening to. On repeat.




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