Tuesday 20 May 2008

Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits Album. Utterly Pointless Really.

Don't get me wrong. This is by no means the worst musical vanity project ever bestowed upon us by Hollywood. Actually, the music itself is inviting. TV On The Radio dude Dave Sitek's production is typically dense and some of the arrangements are quite pretty.

My gripe is with the artiste. A fine actress she may be, but Scarlett ain't got the lungs for a Tom Waits number or ten. The gravelly Galoises engraved lungs. The joy of a great Tom Waits song is in the conviction of his expression. By turns world weary, demented, angry or crestfallen, the man always growls from experience. His is a life fully lived. And he is all the cooler for it.

Scarlett is 23 years old. She does not growl. She whines. Her lower octaves and breathy delivery operate purely on an aesthetic level. There is no passion, no evidence of emotional devastation. Uncomfortable and self-aware, she never once makes the listener believe. Whilst never sounding horrible, the album is ultimately a soulless exercise. An achievement in itself considering her accomplished wordsmith.

As relevant as a Bella from Fair City album of Tommy Fleming covers.

By the by, if you want to hear some worthwhile music from a Hollywood actress then check out She & Him. The delectable Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward make with the Juno loveliness buzz. "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" is on heavy rotation at the moment. Give it a whirl.


aoife mc said...

I haven't listened to the scarlett thing - I can't be bothered which is really mean. I'm just expecting it to be shit so I just don't want to go there. I know that's wrong.

She & Him on the other hand is gorgeous. You said that Scarlett lacks emotion in her voice - that's where Trillian/Zoe nails it, her voice is scratchy and imperfect and heartbroken. It's so good.

John Cav said...

Aoife Mc: I was so surprised by She & Him - also probably wrong - and how impressive her vocals are. You nailed it with the imperfection comment. She just sounds like she means it. Half the battle in itself.

Loving the Hitchhikers reference by the way. If I may do likewise, Scarlett's album has more than a bang of Vogon poetry to it. How witty am I :)

skincarelover said...

I like Scarlett Johannson so much. She's very beautiful and charming woman. And I think her voice is ok.^_^

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