Bad As Me, 2011

Bad As Me
Bad As Me is Tom Waits’ first studio album of all new music in seven years. This pivotal work refines the music that has come before and signals a new direction. Waits, in possibly the finest voice of his career, worked with a veteran team of gifted musicians and longtime co-writer/producer Kathleen Brennan. 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.

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  • “His songs hurdle past in waves of blistering energy and imagery; his lyrics are as unpredictable and inspired as ever.”

    The Guardian UK
  • “At 61 Mr. Waits is acclaimed as an American marvel: a songwriter who can be smart and primal, raucous and meticulous, ethereal and earthy, bleak and comical…Waits is cherished by his generation of musicians as skillful songwriter and uncompromising outsider…Now indie- rockers study him, emulating not only his rasp and growl vocals and spiky arrangements, but also his self guided career path.”

    New York Times
  • “…he spits straight in the eye of teen culture, trumping it in hunger and spirit…Waits’ vocals, like Captain Beefheart’s before him, take Howlin’ Wolf to the 10th power.”

    New York Daily News
  • “Everyone of these songs sounds like it could be a movie.”

    Chicago Tribune
  • “All Tom Waits' life is here, often in the same song…the joy in the playing is contagious…a watershed release.”

  • “The singer with the lowdown Howlin’ Wolf yowl, which is richer and more elastic than ever on Bad As Me…his first new studio album in seven years, and one of the best of his wildly fruitful creative life.”

    Los Angeles Times
  • “…as powerful as anything he's done…It doesn't get much better than this.”

    Rolling Stone
  • “Waits remains the man of a thousand voices: the brute bark, the lunatic yelp, the wistful whisper, the low grumble…brims with vivid imagery.”

    Creative Loafing Tampa
  • “Mad, brilliant and utterly original.”

    Evening Standard UK
  • “Waits has become a genre unto himself…His first album of new material since 2004’s Real Gone, it’s also one of Waits’ most balanced works in recent memory.”

    Boston Globe
  • “Throughout the album he spits, croons, screams, laughs and whispers, moving effortlessly between genres and moods…Waits shows off the staying power of his legacy while still managing to define himself as a standout among his peers… no one is in fact as bad as him.”

    The Daily Californian
  • “…give me satisfaction or give me death — is what it's all about. Bad as Me, his first album of new material in seven years, is a tour de force of wise ol' swagger and new-century blues.”

    Boston Phoenix
  • “His musical scope is bewildering.”

    Daily Mail UK
  • “Unstoppable demolition derby of songs.”

    Daily Telegraph UK
  • “Waits' songwriting and arranging are still extremely potent, and partly because his thematic desperation fits this particular moment in history like a ragged glove.”

  • “Best of all, following a career that stretches nearly four decades, Waits remains an energetic and agitated musical outlier, pushing boundaries and avoiding compromise. …Waits somehow alchemizes eight decades of folk culture into something wholly modern and original. It is a towering song sprung from the mind of a great author, one who began as a faithful follower and graduated into a legend of his own.”

    Washington Post
  • “His Bad As Me (Anti) is so emotionally true and revealing it makes for riveting listening and as good a soundtrack for our era of unease as we’re likely to get for some time.”

    Cape Cod Times
  • “Tom Waits remains a singular, fascinatingly elusive character. Bad As Me…keeps the myth intact and he remains unknown and untouchable, but there is renewal and evolution…He plays to his strengths, merging adventurism and experimentation with his former tenderness…It's hard to think of anyone making music so uncompromising, but so utterly beautiful.”

  • “There’s a barrel-chested, big-hearted swagger about Bad As Me, Waits determined to subsume every one of his personas in a lusty embrace – he has never before sung in so many distinct voices on one album…Bad As Me is the sound of a supremely confident artist convening a raucous celebration of his own myth…A swaggering multifarious tour de force.”