The outspoken, the bizarre and fantastic Mr. Tom Waits has yet again undauntedly released another freakish masterpiece, Bad as Me, replete with sinister and sad words, intoxicated vocals, and sardonic music. Since 1973, Tom Waits has haunted us with his lyrics, melodies, and painfully dry, throaty voice. His musical output has varied from soft, almost embarrassingly maudlin ballads like Time, Shiver Me Timbers, and Ol’ 55 to pre-rock vaudeville and jazzy snappy ditties like Step Right Up and Clap Hands. A lurking figure, never in the limelight but never out of touch or away too long, Waits has been predictable only insofar as his oddity and humour always gets wonderfully stranger. On Bad as Me, this sixty-some-odd year old monster, four decades after his debut, is as stunningly bizarre and ecstatically liberated as he ever was. Unlike many artists that begin outspoken and melt into commercial success, Waits is still uninhibited, unafraid of offending, and not with crass, lurid imagery and language (though there is that, too), but with music that most would feel dreadfully uncomfortable about. On this album, Waits revisits those smoky dives of the pre-Elvis years with bourbon-soaked voices and lyrics. Still the endearing, clumsy, dark romantic, Waits sings Kiss Me, which sounds like its playing from a record. He sings lyrics for a kid’s song, Last Leaf (I’ve always thought Waits must be amazing around kids, being so clownish and playful); the metaphor of being the last leaf on the tree is obvious personal and I’ll let you figure it out. He explodes on Get Lost, a kind of sardonic big band number that I have on repeat every morning. In effect, Waits has thankfully not changed a bit. He has impressively stuck to his guns and it’s so refreshing to hear him amongst the roar of commercial boredom oozing across the land.
Key Tracks: Back in the Crowd, Get Lost, Hell Broke Luce, Last Leaf
Moods: Visceral, Eerie, Melancholy, Swaggering, Eccentric
Buy: Bad As Me
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