Posts Tagged ‘Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits’

New coat of paint

November 23, 2019

“Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits,”
is available at Dualtone Music Group.

Tom Waits is an acquired taste (just ask Pat O’B), but Allison Moorer finds him delicious.

Moorer and several other female artists, working with producer Warren Zanes, have released an album of Waits covers titled “Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits.”

They lay a sweet, smooth coat of Sherwin-Williams over that weatherbeaten Waits structure, which Zanes describes with all due respect as a “trash-can aesthetic,” and it works beautifully in the cuts I’ve heard.

Roseanne Cash performs a gently reimagined “Time,” one of the Waits songs I like to play badly on guitar. Iris Dement, a frequent John Prine collaborator, takes a deep, Dolly Parton country dive into “The House Where Nobody Lives.” And Patty Griffin’s take on “Ruby’s Arms” strips the original of its instrumental fat and gets right down to the bone.

In an interview on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” Scott Simon quotes Moorer describing Waits as “a fully integrated artist who seemingly sees the whole picture at once and knows how to present it so that we do too.”

“He does seem to draw up marginal characters a lot — people who are either stuck in life or we don’t consider them people that we see,” Moorer said. “He exposes the everyday.”

Zanes hopes the album will unearth the lyrical voice that for some may be inextricable from the “grit and the growl” that characterizes Waits’s delivery.

“I think over the years he went deeper into the back of the cave, and sometimes I think people fail to see the very classic nature of the songs because of that ‘trash can’ aesthetic,” he told Simon.

“We viewed it as, ‘His 70th birthday is coming, and it’s a feast day, and we’re gonna take these songs and we’re gonna give them all the sweetness that we can.’ There’s something about the female voice that’s associated with a kind of vulnerability and a kind of emotion that we really wanted to breathe in these songs.”

Meanwhile, here’s the original “Ruby’s Arms,” the closer to 1980’s “Heartattack and Vine.” I was alone and miserable in Tucson when I trudged down Orange Grove Road to some anonymous Oracle Road music shop to buy this one. Still have it, too.