Falling Down

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

28 Oct 2008

In a move that surprised everyone, I think, Scarlett Johansson released a tribute album a few months ago, covering Tom Waits songs. This was a while ago, but it took me a while to get over that fact. What was more surprising, considering earlier attempts of actresses-cum-singers, is that it wasn’t bad. This album had two a-priori handicaps, both for being a a pretty actress heading into a new field, and for being a Tom Waits cover album – a feat that is hard to get right as many have shown. It is doubly surprising, then, that she pulled off.

I don’t know if the credit should go entirely to her. Johansson does the vocals, which are certainly adequate, but the real work is done in the arrangement, which are very different than the original arrangements while still capturing the thick, gloomy Waits atmosphere. TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek should get a lot of the credit for the production. It might be selling short her input in the project, but it feels like she’s dragged along inside the arrangements, not a diva but another instrument in the melange. I am not saying this disparagingly – her voice has all the right qualities needed, but it’s certainly not the lead instrument in most of the songs, so attempting to picture her as the center of the production feels a bit hollow.

This must be why I like the music video released for Falling Down, originally from Waits’ Big Time. It was directed by one Bennett Miller, who also cast her in a video for Bob Dylan’s When The Deal Goes Down from his latest album, Modern Times, and the two videos have the same grainy, cinéma vérité quality to them. The one for Falling Down, though, shows Johansson getting prepared for a show – made up, dressed and led to the stage. This has the same qualities I see in the album – her being dragged on by the general production, swallowed up, carried away.

Still, a very good album.

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