Album Review: Tom Waits “Bad As Me”

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tom waits car wide Album Review: Tom Waits Bad As Me

[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Tom Waits[/lastfm] has had a subtle but dramatic influence on music over the last several decades, he’s been regarded as ‘ahead of his time.’ With Bad As Me, his first all-new studio album in seven years, Waits is releasing his music to a world that has seemingly just begun to catch up. Bad As Me is adventurous, lean and heavy, drawing from past inspirations while having a stark (and startling) modernity.

It begins with the chugging and aggressive “Chicago,” a very signature Waitsy romp, and careens into “Raised Right Men,” a schizophrenic, if not sarcastic-sounding [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Jim Morrison[/lastfm]-In-Hell style big rock song. The songs on this record vary widely, as is to be expected from Tom Waits. This bipolar songwriting tendency is evident when the lonely, weepy ballad “Last Leaf” is followed up by the vivid, brutal, and even profane first-person anti war song, “Hell Broke Luce.” “Bad As Me,” the title track, is an industrial-scorched tango song, sung in an off-key croak, it sounds simultaneously desperate and evil.[pullquote quote="No good you say? Well that's good enough for me." credit="Tom Waits in Bad As Me"]

Waits’ voice is magnificent on the record; he proves that his voice ages like a fine wine, some may say he’s in his best form on this record. He can still howl and bellow, he can still sing in a spooky falsetto, and he seems even more capable than ever of a measured, soft-but-broken croon. This wide range of vocal ability gives the illusion that each song is a different character living in a different world than the one before or after it. Each song is a different color, a different texture.

Bad As Me boasts an all-star group of players, the core of Waits’ arsenal over the years. Featured are guitarists [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Keith Richards[/lastfm] of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Rolling Stones[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Marc Ribot[/lastfm], whose unorthodox guitar stylings naturally enhance Waits’ voice and musical sensibilities. On drums is [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Casey Waits[/lastfm], son of the leading man himself. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Larry Taylor[/lastfm], Waits’ longtime musical associate, plays bass. Also on the record are [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Clint Maedgen[/lastfm] on sax, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Ben Jaffe[/lastfm] on trombone, bass and clarinet, and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Charlie Musselwhite[/lastfm] on harmonica

Bad As Me seems to bring [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Tom Waits[/lastfm]‘ catalog into perspective, combining elements of all of his musical phases and framing them in a modern light. It has the doom-fueled rawness of Mule Variations(1999) and Real Gone(2006) while retaining the catchy, quirky avant-garde attitude of earlier albums like Rain Dogs(1985) and Frank’s Wild Years(1987), and of course, he always has the ability to break your heart or bring a tear to your eye. His music has been called timeless, and it seems this is not because he ignores or disregards popular datable music trends, his music simply lives outside of them.

 Album Review: Tom Waits Bad As Me

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Bad As Me is out now on [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Anti Records[/lastfm] and is available on itunes and amazon

Bad As Me track list:

1. ‘Chicago’
2. ‘Raised Right Men’
3. ‘Talking at the Same Time’
4. ‘Get Lost’
5. ‘Face to the Highway’
6. ‘Pay Me’
7. ‘Back in the Crowd’
8. ‘Bad as Me’
9. ‘Kiss Me’
10. ‘Satisfied’
11. ‘Last Leaf’
12. ‘Hell Broke Luce’
13. ‘New Year’s Eve’
14. ‘She Stole the Blush’ *
15. ‘Tell Me’ *
16. ‘After You Die’ *
*bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition

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