Tom Waits is a musical innovator whose unique voice evokes an aural sense of fine scotch gargled with rocks.
On his latest album, Bad As Me, Waits is back to the piano and bluesy atmosphere that he seems most comfortable with. With thirteen tracks of varying styles that already play to be better than anything on Real Gone (2004), Bad As Me leaves a favorable impression from the first track.
The lively “Chicago” begins the album with a rollicking bluesy/jazz hybrid. As he shouts, “ all aboard,” you'll find yourself interested enough to jump on this train that is moving from the station, already at a high speed. If you have no interest for this ride, it’s already possible that your musical blood has congealed to the gooey consistency of old oil. It’s followed by “Raised Right Men,” a rockin’ blues song that continues to set the tone.
There are jazzy ballads (“Talking at the Same Time”, “Kiss Me”), ‘50s-styled rock (“Get Lost”) and good old Waits-style rock and roll with “Satisfied.” “Satisfied” is an anthem for determined and defiant people unwilling to let aging and a lack of fulfillment become their legacy.
“Hell Broke Luce” is as close as you’ll get to a Tom Waits version of hardcore metal, but let me tell you, it’s a perfect piece of a complete puzzle. Waits uses a metaphorical approach on mortality with his mournful “Last Leaf.” The album closes with the reflective, instrumentally spare folksong story of “New Year’ Eve.”
Tom Waits is an exceptional artist who doesn’t need to update his sound to match
the times. He needs only to be conscious
of his place in the world, a feat he performs easily.
With such bravado in place, it is not surprising to have Waits deliver superior efforts like Bad As Me. Frankly, Bad As Me has all of the elements in place to become a flawless Tom Waits classic.