It's been seven years since Tom Waits unleashed on the world his brilliant, barmy work of "cubist funk", Real Gone. So there was obviously a huge amount of anticipation about his new offering, Bad As Me. What would he do next? Would he bang together blocks of wood in a wardrobe, or sit down at a piano like it's 1976?
Well, joyfully, the answer is that he is doing a bit of both. Bad As Me takes many aspects of Tom Waits' incredible career and squeezes them into one album. With a soft vocal over gentle Spanish guitars, Back in the Crowd is one of the prettiest and saddest songs Waits has ever written. "If you don't want these arms to hold you/If you don't want these lips to kiss you/If you found someone new/Put me back in the crowd/Put the sun behind the clouds," he sings like a man trying to hold together his breaking heart. Juxtaposing this is a shouty title track and the barked Hell Broke Luce, which sounds like it's taken directly from Real Gone. Meanwhile, Get Lost sees Waits go all rock n roll, Kiss Me is an optimistic Blue Valentines for 2011 and Last Leaf is pared back and acoustic.
Bad As Me gets better with every listen and is one of the albums of the year. Existing fans will love it, while newbies will find this the ideal place to begin their Tom Waits collection. Let's just hope we don't have to wait seven years for the next record.
Review by Bobby Townsend. Check the video for Satisfied below: