Tom Waits: Bad As Me album review

Tom Waits, Bad As MeSeven long years after Tom Waits last album he returns with 'Bad as me'.

After one listen I was already feeling that this is one of his best; the tunes, the vocal slurs, the stream of conscious lyrics, the rackety rack percussion, the brass band and the street corner accordian player. Check them off - they are all present. And I welcomed them like old friends.

Things that are new and different: new singing styles, swear words, the use of samples (is that a Tommy Gun and an explosion on 'Hell Broke Luce') - and a more muscular and dense production.

There's less space in this record than on previous; Waits has filled in all the holes with dirt coloured aural wadding; which gives the music a dense claustrophobic feel. The first couple of tracks 'Chicago' and 'Raised Right Men' are cases in point; you couldn't push the blade of a penknife into the spaces in these songs.

Even more theatrical than previous releases (is that possible?); it sounds like it was recorded on a stage - while a bemused audience looked on. As the Cliché goes, 'each of these songs is like a one act play'.

There are good tunes aplenty. How about 'Pay Me' - Waits sings 'They pay me not to come home' - to a slow tuneful waltz - backed by the sound of an old accordian. Poignant; made even more so by the unsteady plink of a piano at the end. Or 'Back In The Crowd'; sang in  another new vocal style; Waits sounding like a 70 year old Elvis.

'Bad As Me' - we hear that old characteristic junkyard beat;  like the drummer is using dustbin lids. Waits jumps between upfront talk that would frighten the kids and a strangled vocal that sounds like a strain even for him.

Both 'Kiss Me' and the final track 'New Years Eve'- remind me of his earliest songs; pre-swordfishtrombones; but more weary in tone. On the home straight I hear him marching off with Keth Richards in tow, 'I had a good home but I left' he croaks.

This is one of Tom Wait's best albums; and with every listen it sounds better.

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What the critics said about 'Every day is sunshine' by Jim Byrne.

  • "a heady and exotic mix. " Q Magazine.
  • "..full of cinematic turns of phrase, dressed up in alluring melodies delivered by some of the most respected players on the modern-day Celtic Folk scene." UNCUT
  • Album of the week on Celtic Music Radio
  • Added to 'God's Jukebox' on Radio Two Mark Lamarr show
  • "A beautifully produced collection of Americana" The Daily Record. Four Stars
  • "Great record... a complete, compelling listen. ", Adam Levy (Songwriter/artist, guitarist with Nora Jones)
  • "ten beautiful, atmospheric songs..", Folk, Blues and beyond
  • "a fresh, original album", Eilidh Patterson (singer songwriter, vocalist with Beth Nielsen Chapman)
  • Sounding like Johnny Cash never left Folsom prison...meditations on life that'll soon sound like old friends. Spiral Earth

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