Tom Waits: Bad As Me
The seventh studio album from Tom Waits is here and it is the gravel-voiced troubadour’s first of all new material in seven years.
Opening with the frantic horn bleating of “Chicago,” we are pretty much thrown into Chi-Town on this snappy beat tune with ole’ Charlie Musselwhite, adding a great wailing harmonica on the end. “Talking At The Same Time” has an ice-chip cool tinkling piano and Waits’ falsetto, not something he’s known for by a long shot! In fact I’d dare say this is Waits’ most adventurous vocal album in a long time. (Tom Waits and adventurous vocals you say?)
The movers here, “Get Lost” (with Waits doing Elvis over the 50’s backing), “Bad As Me” (Waits again managing some amazing vocal tones, plus a lyric I love), and “Satisfied” featuring Les Claypool and Keith Richards (Richards on “Satisfied,” get it?) shift, burp and rock in the usual Waits’ fashion. But for me it is the ballads that are spectacular. “Pay Me” is heart-breaking with its carnival backing and Waits singing purposely out of tune on the bridge. “Last Leaf” is light and airy, pretty much an acoustic ballad with Keith Richards providing backing vocal in a broken-down tumble that works. The last tune, “New Years Eve,” is all regret and slow creep ‘til the shut down.
It has been well worth the wait for new Tom Waits. No one makes music this unique. Bad As Me is brilliant.