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Anywhere I Lay My Head

2.8 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 20, 2008
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Product Description


On an album of Tom Waits covers one should rightly expect some derelict bravado and gruff to make it a credible cover album. But when the vocals are delivered by the divine Scarlett Johansson, you’re already treading in different waters. Add music which offers deeply layered and evocative soundscapes from a deft lineup of musicians that includes members of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, TV on the Radio, and a guest appearance by David Bowie, and you’ve got something altogether different than one would expect on a Tom Waits cover album.

Fans of the old storyteller won’t recognize some of these versions. Instead, at least on a few notable tracks, fans of bands like Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil,and Dead Can Dance will recognize derivative and signature sounds from these mainstays of the venerable bands from the 4AD music label. On this her first musical venture aware from the big screen, Scarlett approaches the art of music by re-envisioning Tom’s old songs with both purpose and pensive respect for the artist she covers.

--Lucas Hilbert

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atco
  • ASIN: B0014IH1N6
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,093 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The key with cover versions is to reinvent them and, over the years, Waits's canon has proved remarkably adaptable to a variety of treatments (jazz, country, folk, thrash punk) by everyone from Tim Buckley to The Ramones.
The guiding light behind Johansson's reinventions is her producer David Sitek (guitarist of TV on the Radio and desk-jockey for post-punkers like Foals and Liars) and prodigiously talented guitarist Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Sitek's default setting here is to use dreamy, alt.rock soundscapes, equal parts Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth and Mercury Rev.
The title track, originally a mournful brass band dirge, is pepped up with a Casiotone drum machine; the ragtime guitar accompaniment of "Fannin Street" is transformed into a Mary Chain/Phil Spector stomp (with David Bowie on backing vocals); "Town With No Cheer" sees the bagpipes and synths of the original replaced by swirling organs and gamelan percussion.
If Johansson's aim was to replicate the husky charisma she exudes on screen then she falls flat here; literally, since on many of "Anywhere..."s tracks she chooses to adopt a low, Nico-esque croon that's not entirely within her register. Which might not matter especially if it wasn't far and away her main contribution on an album purporting to reinterpret one of the most charismatic singers and lyricists in recent memory.
The poppiest track is "I Don't Want To Grow Up", where Waits's beery singalong becomes a thumpy electro-pop belter. Best of all is "I Wish I Was In New Orleans" - on Small Change, it sounds like the mournful lament of a hundred-year-old man; here Johansson's guileless, breathy voice and the spooky, plinky-plonky celeste turns it into a demented nursery rhyme.
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Format: Audio CD
Any record released by an 'actress' becomes a 'must-own' for me, because strangely, the 'genre' has given me a lot of good music. I for one, am very thankful that Milla Jovovich released her superb album "The Divine Comedy" in 1994, even though she was ripped to shreds by the press at the time. When the album came out and sounded like "the lovechild between Tori Amos and Kate Bush", critics finally had no option but to join the bandwagon and heave praise upon Milla.

However, for every Milla Jovovich rarity, there are a string of 'actresses' who have turned toward recording music, some with spectacular results : Charlotte Gainsbourg and her amazing "5:55" (2007), Goldie Hawn and her folk-pop album "Goldie" (yes, this actually exists), and Zooey Deschanel's masterpiece "Volume One" with her band She & Him (2008). Of course, there have also been missteps, such as "Babywoman" by Naomi Campbell, "Carmen Electra" (1992) by Carmen Electra (ironically, this is a rap album), and Emanuelle & Ultra Orange (by French Actress Emanuelle Seigner).

So, to which camp does this album belong to? I hesitate to give this a five star rating, because it feels too short and the production does drown Scarlett's voice at places, but it is indeed a solid four star album. Take it from me, I'm a fan of Nine Inch Nails, Fiona Apple, and Luscious Jackson, so if I found something to love here, so can you. The first thing you need to remember though, is that if you come into this experience wanting to negatively criticize the album, of course you will find loads of things to criticize. But taken as a purely auditory adventure, "Anywhere I Lay my Head" is a runaway success.
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5 Comments 28 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
Scarlett Johansson has always had an odd deeper, but still girly voice. When I heard she was coming out with an album I couldn't wait to hear what it would be like.

Honestly I expected something more normal and poppy.

After a quick listen, normal music was nowhere to be found. She has created a great album with a few great tracks that really stand out to me.

It seems that here on Amazon the majority of the people hate this album. I can see how they would think she cannot sing. I see it as the style of music she is singing. It is a style and I think she pulls it off perfectly with her very unique voice.

Over-all, I do not believe this to be one of those CD's that you pop in and listen all the way through. This is more of a CD that you grab a few good tracks and make a mixed CD with other bands' good songs.

The best tracks in my opinion are #2 (Town with no Cheer) and #3 (Falling Down). The rest of the CD isn't that bad, but none of the other tracks really grabbed me like those two.

These few songs are really worth a listen. Who knows, you may really like it.
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Format: Audio CD
I like Tom Waits music, but I'm not a big fan of Tom Waits as a singer. So the idea of someone covering Tom Waits appeals to me. The problem is that Scarlett Johansson is just not a singer. Fannin Street, Falling Down and I Don't Want to Grow Up are decent and if you listen to the samples and like them, download them. This CD epitomizes why downloading came into existence. The people who rate this a 1 have not heard enough really bad music. I think the three songs I mentioned are good enough to bring it from a 1 to a 2. I don't know who could give this CD a 4 or 5 star rating but I've met a lot of people in my life who were just tone deaf. So maybe they share a kindred spirit with Scarlett Johansson in this regard.
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Practically unlistenable
This CD is really very disappointing. The singing of Scarlett Johansson and the music don't connect and the latter is even annoying. That Miss Johansson can sing she proved with her version of Gershwin's Summertime on the Unexpected Dreams: Songs From the Stars (Rhino 2006) release. The only nice... Read More
May 18, 2008 by Lebe |  See all 4 posts
Be honest: Survey on expectations for this one
The sample's aren't promising. I don't know if it's her singing (which sounds a bit like Sinead 'O Connor) or the production. Waits is a song craftsman and his songs need production to focus on that craft. The samples sound like noisy distortion over Scarlett's singing, which is okay at best. ... Read More
Apr 23, 2008 by Poor Napoleon |  See all 25 posts
I don't Want to Grow up
au contraire... this might one of the best... you are right about it being more pop than his usual stuff but it truly capturing the essence of pop/punk... the video is pure genius... Ramones cover of this song only makes it all the more endearing... and a perfect fit to their genre... they give... Read More
May 14, 2008 by J. Hanelius |  See all 7 posts
If this is what's passing for a "tribute album" these days, then I think...
It's true that Nico made the Velvet Underground more popular and accessible, but what about their later releases such as Loaded and White Light/White Heat? People get so caught in the hype of 'Venus in Furs' and 'Heroin' that they fail to credit VU's later releases, which in my opinion, are just... Read More
May 24, 2008 by LLMiddleJ |  See all 6 posts
Her new single
It's a Tom Waits song...that should explain a lot. I want to hear the rest of the album. I don't necessarily think she was trying to "sing" in an American Idol sort of way. I think she captured the feel of Falling Down and her version with the new instrumentation is mesmerizing after... Read More
Apr 30, 2008 by Alyssa Cornelius |  See all 8 posts
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