Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards [Anti-, 2006]
Having creamed for these 56 songs old, new and nobody's talking, I returned with trepidation. Sure enough, the first time through, too many had faded on me. Soon, however, even ones I'd given up on were bum-rushing my earhole, like "Lucinda," with its steel-driving beat and gallows gloom. One reason, close attention to 1988's "Sea of Love" suggests, is that his groan has grown more distinct. And though it would be mere rhetoric to claim the six spoken-word pieces on Disc 3 are really music--they're yarns, jokes, theater, that's the point--they do really sound good. I said sound. A