Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
I’ve often felt nonplussed by Tom Waits’ output in the 21st century. While it maintains his high standards, and has enjoyed critical acclaim, it hasn’t often felt like it’s broken new ground and it’s often been terse and unrelentingly dark. But the one exception is this triple set of Waits’ out-takes and new songs. Its three discs are organised thematically, into brawlers, bawlers, and bastards – respectively covering his bluesy rockers, his ballads, and his more experimental pieces.
Orphans‘ fifty six songs include thirty new songs recorded specifically for the project, and it’s a treat to have so much worthy Waits material in one place. There are ton of highlights, but among many standout tracks there’s the deathbed balladry of ‘Never Let Go’, the spoken tale of ‘Missing My Son’, and the spluttering cover of Leadbelly’s ‘Goodnight Irene’.
Orphans is the one Waits album from the 21st century that is all but indispensable to fans.