Bad As Me, Tom Waits's first studio album of new music in seven years, was released yesterday. I'm an enormous Tom Waits fan and never met an album of his I didn't love, but I love some of the material more than others -- in general, I'm fonder of his noisier, faster, more dramatic stuff, and less enamored of the ballad-y numbers. Bad As Me leans more towards the ballads, and they're awfully sweet and sad, but for me, the standout track is Hell Broke Luce, an anti-war song that is pure gotterdammerung and may be my new all-time-fave Tom Waits track. Anti-, Waits's label, actually has some pretty good copy explaining the album's appeal:
From the opening horn-fueled chug of “Chicago,” to the closing barroom chorale of “New Year’s Eve,” Bad As Me displays the full career range of Waits’ songwriting, from beautiful ballads like “Last Leaf,” to the avant cinematic soundscape of “Hell Broke Luce,” a battlefront dispatch. On tracks like “Talking at the Same Time,” Waits shows off a supple falsetto, while on blues burners like “Raised Right Men” and the gospel tinged “Satisfied” he spits, stutters and howls. Like a good boxer, these songs are lean and mean, with strong hooks and tight running times. A pervasive sense of players delighting in each other’s musical company brings a feeling of loose joy even to the album’s saddest songs.