I'm still trying to decide what to think about Orphans. I've given the tracks a listen, off and on, this morning, and earlier I plucked a couple of the advance tracks, courtesy of eMusic. Still, although I've been a fan of Waits ever since I first heard "Step Right Up" way back in college, I can't bring myself to buy this whole thing. Yes, the songwriting -- such that I've heard -- is stellar. He speaks up for the disenfranchised, which is always a plus in my book. But a little bit of Tom's gruff singing goes a long way. Then again, he does cover two Ramones tracks, so that's another plus. Hmmm. What to do?
For now, I'm going to cherry-pick a few tracks and see if I warm up to them over the long weekend.
Meanwhile, here are some other views from people who have lent an ear:
From Bard of the Boneyard from Minneapolis City Pages: "Yes, Waits's music continues to sound pretty, he's still a paragon of cool, and he keeps the faith like no one else. ... [But] Orphans itself draws heavily from Waits's routine reservoir."
From cdreviews.com: "The deacon of the downtrodden, the shaman of gritty romanticism, the everyman’s swarthy-throated mongrel king—Tom Waits—has possibly made the finest album of this young millennium."