ALBUM REVIEW: TOM WAITS “BAD AS ME”
Being released through Anti- Records on October 24, Bad As Me is Tom Waits’ first studio album of all new music in seven years. His songs are best-known through cover versions by more popular artists such as: Bruce Springsteen’s "Jersey Girl", and Rod Stewart "Downtown Train”. Waits’ incorporation of pre-rock music styles such as blues and jazz combined with his trademark growl (and his spits, stutters and howls) definitely allow for him to be very distinctive and have a one of a kind sound.
Tom Waits has quite a background in the performing arts; he has worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films. He also wrote and performed the intro song to the famous independent movie Wristcutters: A Love Story.
Starting off with ‘Chicago’, a frenetic blues jam attached to vulnerable lyrics “To leave all we’ve ever known/ for a place we’ve never seen.” Rumbling onto the second song, ‘Raised Right Men’ has a tough jarring organ played against a hammering bass line.
‘Talking at the Same Time’ takes a slow turn with him taking the gravel out of his voice and becoming something between a crooner and a jazz vocalist, “I know you’re leaving and there’s no more next time/
Everybody’s talking at the same time”
Although ‘Get Lost’ has a sound like a fifties retro rocker song, it brings you back to reality with him sounding more of a screaming ghoul than previously thought possible.
‘Face to the Highway’ is a haunted walking blues song that talks about moving on from a relationship with sorrowful lyrics like “I turned my face to the highway And I turn my back on you”
‘Pay Me’ is a self-loathing track with lyrics like “It’s nobody’s business but mine when I’m low/ to hold yourself up is not a crime here you know/ At the end of the world.”
‘Back in the Crowd’ is a hauntingly beautiful song about the end of a love affair “If you don’t want these arms to hold you/ If you don’t want these lips to kiss you/If you’ve found somebody new/ Put me back in the crowd”, lyrics most of us can relate to at a certain point.
The title track ‘Bad As Me’ has all his scheming bravado, where he plays devil’s advocate of sorts: “You’re the nail in the cross/You’re the key that got lost/You’re the same kind of bad as me.”
Then, the album then takes a turn with the beautiful lyrics and drawls of ‘Kiss Me’ “Kiss me like a stranger once again/ I want to believe that our love’s a mystery”, the album then parades onto ‘Satisfied’, an attempt to answer The Stones “Satisfaction”. While ‘Last Leaf’ has a cold wintery sentimental vibe to it, taking about loneliness and feeling so abandoned.
‘Hell Broke Luce’ is a cinematic battlefront display which ignites your imagination to the ninth degree. With slightly disturbed lyrics and gruff barked vocals like “That big fucking bomb made me deaf, deaf” and “Big fucking ditches in the middle of the road” it’s sure to grab your attention.
While still keeping his gravel voice he ends the album with a slow reminiscent song called ‘New Year’s Eve’, which serves to highlight the fractured tale of a party that has gone awry.
At the end of it all ‘Bad As Me’ has a range of upbeat aggressively powerful songs with strong hooks, mixed in with some beautiful lyrical ballads. While Tom Wits music isn’t for everybody, considering his growls/spits/stutters and howls, he sure has made it work for him.
Best Tracks: Back In The Crowd , New Years Eve, and Face To The Highway