Scarlett's Waits Tribute: Unnecessary, But Not Bad

Johansson revisits legendary croaker's catalog
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2008 1:15 PM CDT
Scarlett Johansson arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala, in New York on Monday, May 5, 2008.    (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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(Newser) – “Even the most sympathetic critics,” writes Tom Breihan for the Village Voice, have to grant that Anywhere I Lay My Head, Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits tribute album, “is a fundamentally ridiculous enterprise, almost stunning in its total lack of need to exist.” That said, Breihan thinks the record is actually pretty good, made stronger by the fact that it sounds absolutely nothing like Tom Waits.

Johansson tapped TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek to produce the record, and he renders Waits originals into warm, shoegazey layers of sound, of which Johansson’s voice is only a tiny part of the larger mosaic. This smartly takes the focus off of her celebrity, while honoring “the faraway mystery of the Waits originals without ever attempting to replicate their sound.”