The first point that needs to be made right away about Tom Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ newest Anti album Real Gone is that it will suit fans already fond of his signature sound but probably will not convert any who arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t big on his signature raspy delivery. For those that remain, Real Gone follows up Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ two 2002 albums Alice and Blood Money with an organic approach, laden with dirty production and human beat-boxing. Nearly every track is co-written by Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ wife and collaborator Kathleen Brennan and features clang-y guitar by Marc Ribot and thumping bass from Primusâ€šÃ„Ã´ own Les Claypool. Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ son Casey also provides work on turntables and percussion, all of which combine to make the record sound warm, quiet and disheveled, like if a hobo just jumped off a train with his band to sing you a song.Some of the best songs land right in the middle. “Trampled Rose” finds Waits belting his highest pitch conceivable with his crackled voice against a walking blues meander. The down-tempo and awkward “Circus” finds Tom delivering a spoken word story much in the style of an obvious predecessor Captain Beefheart. And just before those tracks, “Dead and Lovely” highlights Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ ability to shine above what one might think were vocal limitations drawing you closer with subtle intonations.
Elsewhere, in the beginning, a ten minute plus “Sins of My Father” lumbers forward with a reggae-drugged-by-downers approach. This along with the opener “Top of the Hill” show tremendous courage in eclectic style, but Waitsâ€šÃ„Ã´ signature drawl will make it tough for some more impatient listeners to find the chewy center here. Nevertheless, a must have for current Waits fans.