Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm going to be kind and label this as "misguided"

Listen, I love Scarlett Johansson. I do. She's a great actress, she doesn't play the Hollywood game and she's an absolute raving beauty. When I first heard she was planning an album of Tom Waits covers, it made some sort of sense. Her speaking voice is deep and expressive, so the songs would suit her range. Also, Waits' material can have a flair for the dramatic that, reworked in the right hands, can be amazing (check out Megan Mullally's take on "Ruby's Arms").

Unfortunately, the end result is the aural equivalent of this:

which is to say, it's ill fitting, it's vaguely embarrassing and it's also murderously drab at the same time. She can just about carry a tune, but there's absolutely no range to her voice, nor is there any expression or emotion. And her voice is buried under bland and insipid arrangements of the songs, which do nothing to disguise the fact that she's massively out of her depth.

Since she's been in the public eye for some time now, it's easy to forget that Scarlett is only 23 years old. It's possible that she might have some people cut her some slack due to her young age. Well, as much as I love her, I can't do that. When the likes of Laura Marling, Adele, Mika and Amy MacDonald are producing infinitely more interesting and massively superior work when they are even younger than that, I can't bring myself to chalk this one up to naivete. Like Katherine Heigl, ScarJo has a huge army of very loud haters who will go after her for any reason (if you're feeling brave enough, check out the imdb boards for the both of them. It's unbelievable). With "Anywhere I Lay My Head", all Johansson has done is hand her detractors 50 minutes of very valid sticks with which to beat her. Shame.

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