19 October 2011
by Jon Wright
It’s that time of the year yet again when the expectancy of Christmas is upon us and the musical birth pool is over flowing with so called ‘new’ greatest hits from various artists.
Unfortunately most of the time there’s nothing new about them apart from maybe just one of the tracks recorded live.
So I thought I’d leave them well alone until something that actually contains something great and go with something new. The new Tom Waits opus due for release on the 27th just in time for the spooky weekend (no don’t mean the presidential election results!)
If you were thinking of throwing a ghoulish party this would be an apt cd for it but also a nice one to add to your collection, as I must say it’s pretty damn good.
This is the twentieth studio by the man with the gravel voiced vocals whose tales of sad eyed losers, rain dogs and bar flies has influenced countless musicians since his debut album ‘Closing Time’ way back in 1973.
Now his vocal style may not be everyone’s cup of tea especially in this age where singers are tweeted in the studio to sound sickly sweet but there is no denying his raw talent in composing brilliant songs.
At 61 he sounds unbelievably invigorated and youthful, and through out the albums tracks populates the proscenium with his ever-growing cast of voices.
There’s the excellent ‘Talking at the Same Time’ where Waits sings in falsetto mode backed by what I’d describe as ominous Spaghetti Western style guitars and piano which sounds as if some creature is running along the keys.
‘Chicago’ blends guitar and banjo with horns into one exuberant swigging instrument, yielding a huge train like gallop.
Significantly contributing to this album aural landscape is the musicians’ interplay. On the track ‘Satisfied’, which is Waits’ world wise successor to Jagger and Richards’ ode to dissatisfaction we have Mr.Keith Richards; stinging signature riffs locking horns with guitarist Mark Ribot’s angular counterpoint while drummer Casey Waits percolates around the shuffle, thus drawing on the weird, syncopated essence of the great classic blues.
Within the 13 songs my favourite has to be ‘Last Leaf’ here Waits duets with Keith Richards producing a truly moving track, defying in a more vulnerable way ‘Satisfied’.
‘New Years Eve’ harkens back to an earlier familiar style of Waits’ ballad with updated lyrics.
From the singer/songwriter who has given us such amazing songs through the years such as ‘Jersey Girl’, ‘Martha’ and ‘Downtown Train’ one can truly say his new opus is one that surveys many of the mans’ techniques and styles from throughout his career, blending them perfectly with new voices and sounds that create a tightly focused masterpiece, brimming with detail and exhilaration.