Tom Waits, The Heart of Saturday Night

Sam Adams

By Sam Adams

on 10.24.11 in Reviews

The Heart Of Saturday Night

Tom Waits
Still finding his voice

Tom Waits is still finding his voice on his second album, literally and figuratively. The smooth croon of “Shiver Me Timbers” and “Drunk on the Moon” bears little resemblance to his familiar apocalyptic rasp, although it’s got just enough sand to scuff up the former’s swelling French horn. The after-hours trawl of “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night” veers close to sentimentality, but Waits’s romanticism is cut with weariness, as if he keeps searching only because he prefers failure to defeat. The cool-cat spoken word of “Diamonds on My Windshield” points the way to future glories, swinging crime-novel patois like a bebop Raymond Chandler. Stacked next to Nighthawks at the Diner or Heartattack & Vine, The Heart of Saturday Night inevitably feels a tad unformed, but the melancholy beauty of “Semi Suite” and “San Diego Serenade” is unassailable, no matter who’s singing.