eMusic Review 0
Orphans is so chock-a-block full of Tom Waits trademarks — bangings, clangings, swamp hollers, jailbreak recipes, hobo manifestos, starlit waltzes, dime-store valentines, last-call singalongs — that it’s easy to overlook how seriously out of character it is: For the first time in the 33 years he's been making records, Waits is looking backward instead of forward, honing instead of innovating. And yet what could have been just a simple career-spanning collection of outtakes, B-sides and compilation tracks has sprawled into something weirdly akin to a statement: an instruction manual for how his mind works, a voluntary sheaf of contact sheets.
Disc one, "Brawlers," dismembers rockabilly, juke-joint blues and gospel testifiers with Waits' usual avant-garde aplomb, muddling obsolete sounds and progressive visions; "Road to Peace," a chilling, moaned snapshot of failed Israeli-Palestinian relations, is the sole effort to rise out of the atemporal stew and attach itself to current events. Disc two, "Bawlers," offers an embarrassment of sentimental riches: unabashed odes to natural wonders ("You Can Never Hold Back Spring"), corner-bar breakup ballads ("It’s Over"), banjo-plucking moongazers ("Shiny Things") and a pedal-steel-draped take on a pop standard ("Young at Heart"). Disc three, "Bastards," collects compilation rarities like Kurt Weill’s "What Keeps Mankind… read more »