Thursday, May 22, 2008

Scarlett Johansson - "Anywhere I Lay My Head" CD

It's acknowledged by anyone with an ounce of sentience that Tom Waits is a goddamned genius. One of the greatest songwriters this side of Dylan himself, some would say (like me). And anyone who thinks Waits' distinctively, umm, 'unmusical' delivery mars his songs, well, you, kind sir, are unequivocally wrong. Hottie-of-the-week actress Scarlett Johansson seems to think she can re-invigorate and clean up Waits' tunes and present them to a new audience. This, her debut, contains 10 (count 'em) TEN covers of the masters' tunes (and one lowly original). It's all wrapped up in fine production from TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek, and boasts a couple of guest apps from David Bowie himself. Esteemed company, yes. But how's it sound? Well, it's nicely gauzy and shoegazey. Kind of floaty and narcotic. I won't talk about what everyone else says, about Johansson's lack of range. Bloody 'ell, Waits' own vocals aren't Mr. Tuneful, either. The question here is, does she add anything to these songs? I say no. Her re-interpretations are basically pretty window dressing. The wonderfully gritty, everyman delivery of Waits is here tossed into a fuzzy, slo-mo dreamscape. It's not terrible (except for the plain-awful synthpop version of 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up'), but it's not necessary, either. You're better investing in a superb Waits collection of originals like 'Beautiful Maladies' or the stupendous 'Orphans'. You'll be happier in the long run. You'll just have to trust me on this one. (Atco)
Not a Scarlett Johansson site
Another not a Scarlett Johansson site

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