It’s been a long, dry season. After seven years of scorched earth, with only a set of scraps and the occasional reprise on which to hang our hat, Waits’s upcoming album, Bad As Me, promises some respite.
We were told, via Waits’s website, that on August 23rd the songster would “set the record straight”. He did so with the release of the album’s first single of same name and a “Private Listening Party” :
“Bad As Me” is a churning, big-hipped, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-influenced blues brawl that finds Waits swapping his trademark growl for a warbling caterwaul. Thick, sticky horn blasts reek of elicit propositions, a softly-mixed, almost inaudible piano rings somewhere in ether, alluding to the smoke and stench of the barroom, the wiry twang of a guitar radiates like heat from the barrel of a gun and the drums clang, boom and bounce with the lopsided sashay of an undefeated drunk.
Waits tries to relate to his subject, imploring to be seen in the same nefarious light. He asserts, “You’re the head on the spear / You’re the nail on the cross / You’re the fly in my beer / You’re the key that got lost / You’re the letter from Jesus on the bathroom wall / You’re mother superior in only a bra / You’re the same kind of bad as me”. The subject remains unconvinced. Waits questions in a cocky whisper, “No good, you say?” and assures, “Well, that’s good enough for me”. He explains that, “I’m the mattress in the back / I’m the old gunnysack / I’m the one with the gun / Most likely to run / I’m the car in the weeds / If you cut me I’ll bleed / You’re the same kind of bad as me,” demanding a vote of confidence from a partner in crime, or a foot in the door with a low-down young thing.
Slotted at number eight of a robust thirteen tracks (sixteen if you purchase the deluxe edition), “Bas As Me” is nowhere near as dense as the cacophonous insanity that typifies Waits’s best music, but it plays like straight-forward shot of pure oxygen in the middle of what will surely be a profound and undoubtedly unusual collection.
Listen to new song “Back in the Crowd”:
Written by Ben Brundage.
Read Ben’s full review of Bad As Me : HERE.
For more of Ben’s work, check out his Tumblr, Damned Fine Lion.