Waits' bio reads like a Hollywood film, and by that I mean the drama came hard and fast for this woman. We're talking alcoholic father, a mother who squelched her daughter's early singing attempts out of jealousy before being murdered, and growing up in poverty in Louisiana.
But while Waits' early life was tumultuous to say the least, that voice managed to prevail, and on her self-titled debut for the Radarproof label, we are shown why we are all the better for it. Just as capable of singing a torch song as getting down and dirty with the blues, Waits tackles a combination of covers and originals on her CD with passion that really should be displayed more in the music business.
Her choices for covers are as curious when one sees them listed on the CD cover as they are ultimately appropriate, once they have been heard. Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule," sizzles with mischief when the female Waits works her magic on it. Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells," a criminally overlooked track from his excellent "Oh Mercy" CD, is given beautifully reverent treatment by Waits, as is the Billie Holiday standard, "Yesterdays."
Just wait until you hear the longing in Waits' voice when she tackles Ray Charles' "Drown in My Own Tears." Among the originals, the song "The Ballad of Judith Anne" is the most intriguing.
Also good is "Ignatius," which closes out the CD.
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