New Coat of Paint: Songs of Tom Waits

Fittingly, the sketchier and fringier the artist, the better chance they had of showing up on this second collection of songs in tribute to Tom Waits. The picaresque Angeleno milieu Waits painted during his Asylum years is recreated here beautifully, particularly among the female interpreters. Noir country singer Neko Case nails "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" with a fragile but tough delivery; Congo Norvell's Sally Norvell's spare "Please Call Me, Baby" and Geraldine Fibber and Carla Bozulich's orchestrated "On the Nickel" are high-contrast companion pieces. Former Stray Cat Lee Rocker's '50s crooner, big-bass version of "New Coat of Paint" is smooth as silk. Waits never had it this good. ~ Denise Sullivan

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