Tom Waits – Alice (2002, Remastered 2017)

Posted by on October 31, 2017as


Based upon a play about Lewis Carroll’s creepy obsession with the little girl who inspired his most famous heroine, Tom Waits’ Alice is–contrarily–the sweetener of Blood Money’s bitterly funny brew. Largely composed of weepily gentle and dreamlike ballads, Waits still cuts through the romantic mood occasionally but dramatically, as the opening title track’s jazz-bar-at-3am love ballad is followed by “Everything You Can Think”, a sea shanty anthem of nightmarish imagery.

Storytelling dominates here, as well as an obsession with death. “Flower’s Grave” (“If we’re all to die tonight/Another rose will bloom”) is a heartbreaking wise old man ballad; “Poor Edward” is a story of a boy with a devil twin imprinted on the back of his head that is funny and scary and pregnant with a myriad of double meanings; and “Fish & Bird” details love’s misunderstandings by way of a doomed romance between a bird and a whale. And if that isn’t enough beautiful madness for you, then “Kommienezuspadt” gives us a German punk vocal over something that resembles Disney’s “Pink Elephants On Parade”.

Though released concurrently, Alice is less immediately gripping than Blood Money, but you suspect its mood-swinging swirl will hit every bit as hard over time. –Garry Mulholland.

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