Real Gone is another Tom Waits’ album from the 2000s that I’m not very excited about – but this time the issue is that it’s simply too long. While it superficially all sounds like dirty blues, with lots of guitar and few keyboards, it successfully integrates new musical elements for Waits like beat-boxing and loops. In many ways it’s like a sequel to 1992’s similarly raw and bluesy Bone Machine. Real Gone is often very good, but at 72 minutes it outstays its welcome.
There are punchy, concise, bluesy rockers, like ‘Hoist That Rag’ and ‘Make It Rain’ that stand proudly in Waits’ catalogue. ‘Sins of the Father’ is an eerie blues piece, but at ten minutes, like the album as a whole it out-stays its welcome. There’s plenty of dark material, like ‘Baby Gonna Leave Me’ and ‘Don’t Go Into The Barn’, and little contrasting levity.
There’s good material, but 72 minutes of bluesy Waits, with little stylistic variation, makes Real Gone tough to sit through.