Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms

Sign up for our mailing list


Monday, November 27th, 2006

Toronto Star gives Orphans 4 Stars!

Waits' purgative glory: Tom Waits' albums haven't always sounded as if they were recorded at the town dump. There was a time when the one-time piano bard's albums sounded like they were recorded at the neighbourhood bar. It's understandable, however, if that time seems like a distant memory to anyone who recalls the kind of booze-soaked, unsentimentally romantic tunes that characterized the growling singer's formative output back in the 1970s. The music in those days, while never pretty, was often quite lovely, with heartbreak enduring as the most persistent theme.

Since then, Waits has worked his way through a Brechtian cabaret phase into what, most recently, might best be described as the cranky Californian's own clangy brand of industrial rock. Out with the piano. In with an array of percussive effects. A lot of fascinating music has been produced during this latter-day period, right up to and including 2004's Real Gone. But older fans can be excused for missing the bittersweetness of "Martha" from Waits' 1973 debut Closing Time or "Tom Traubert's Blues" from his indisputable 1976 masterpiece, Small Change.

Orphans — a 56-track CD of both new and previously unreleased material divided between three CDs headed "Brawlers," "Bawlers" and "Bastards" — reflects Waits' totality in all of its purgative glory. And the good news for early fans is that the romance — bitter, broken and unrequited though it often might be — is back. While "Brawlers" leans toward the more recent percussion-forged stage, with some ramshackle blues ("2:19") and gospel ("Lord I've Been Changed") worked into the mix, and "Bastards" sounds like music for an intermission at the "Threepenny Opera" (including a cover of Brech-Weill's "What Keeps Man Alive"), "Bawlers" channels classic early Waits, with the piano and upright bass restored to a rightful place of honour. The arrangements also feature horns and strings ("Bend Down the Branches"), mandolin (the Celtic-tinged "Widow's Grove"), banjo ("Shiny Things") and pedal steel ("Tell it to Me"), all ending with an endearing, if not exactly sprightly rendition of "Young at Heart." If you've loved his entire oeuvre, then you'll feel as if you've died and gone to heaven — or, at the very least, purgatory.

VIT WAGNER href="" target="_blank">

Facebook | Twitter | Google Plus

Browse by Artist

1514All Artists 95Tom Waits 61Mavis Staples 52Neko Case 51Lost In The Trees 50Sean Rowe 48Dr. Dog 41Jolie Holland
40Bettye LaVette 38The Milk Carton Kids 37Man Man 33Tim Fite 33DeVotchKa 31Islands 31Grinderman 30Tinariwen 27Galactic 27Wilco 27Son Little 24Michael Franti and Spe... 22Bob Mould 22William Elliott Whitmo... 22Saintseneca 21Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 21The Frames 20Joe Henry 19Booker T. Jones 19Sage Francis 18Doe Paoro 17John K. Samson 17Yann Tiersen 16Ramblin Jack Elliott 16Jason Lytle 15Christopher Paul Stell... 14Glen Hansard 13Daniel Lanois 13Billy Bragg 13Andy Shauf 12Xavier Rudd 12Xenia Rubinos 12Peter Silberman 11The Weakerthans 11Lyrics Born 11Rain Machine 11Mose Allison 11Roky Erickson 11The Antlers 11Calexico 11Prism Tats 10The Swell Season 10The Melodic 10Delicate Steve 9Marianne Faithfull 9N.A.S.A. 9Deafheaven 9So Much Light 9Cameron Avery 8Solillaquists of Sound 8Greg Graffin 8Cadence Weapon 8The Coup 7Elliott Smith 7Eddie Izzard 7Dead Man's Bones 7Alec Ounsworth 7Beth Orton 7Kelly Hogan 7Title Fight 7Jade Jackson 7Los Angeles Police Dep... 6A Girl Called Eddy 6Busdriver 6Os Mutantes 6Kate Bush 6Broken Twin 6The Drums 5One Day As A Lion 5The Field 5Keaton Henson 5Beat Connection 5Japandroids 5The Dream Syndicate 4Ersi Arvizu 4Marketa Irglova 4Pops Staples 3Danny Cohen 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3Petra Haden 3Cass McCombs 3Girlpool 3Curtis Harding 3Ben Harper and Charlie... 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Jeff Tweedy 1Tricky 1Joe Strummer And The M... 1Youth Group 1Blackalicious 1Antibalas 1Porter Wagoner 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1The Locust 1Rogue's Gallery 1Kronos Quartet with Br... 1Simian Mobile Disco 1case/lang/veirs 1Merle Haggard 1Un Blonde 1Rafiq Bhatia
See Full List+