Have I mentioned how overjoyed I am that Waits has bounced back after the mediocrity of Mule Variations? Well, I am. Very much so indeed. Blood Money probably is marginally less of an acheivement than Alice, but really--who could possibly care? It's still more than good enough.
I'll be honest: I could easily live without 'Coney Island Baby.' It's the ol' obligatory "sensitive side" song, but it feels kind of desultory. 'Jersey Girl' it ain't. 'All the World is Green' and 'The Part You Throw Away' do the trick quite nicely here in terms of more subdued songs.
But, of course, that's only half the fun; the more twisted material here rocks me senseless--when I first played the album and heard the opening of 'Misery's the River of the World,' I couldn't keep from grinning broadly--yeah, this, I could tell, was definitely the stuff. 'God's Away on Business' and 'Starving in the Belly of the Whale' are also excellent. Does he "mean" it? Who cares? Has he "meant" any of his personae? The point is, the songs are great, and he performs them with utter conviction. Would you rather it sound like a latterday Nick Cave album--ever-so-restrained, ever-so-tasteful, and ever-so-boring? I think not.
Sure, there are a few inessential tracks, but rare is the entirely consistent Waits album, and this is really as good as one could hope. Furthermore, some of the seemingly weak tracks grow on you--I was indifferent to it at first, but now I must say that 'Another Man's Vine' is one of the greatest things ever.
Let's face it: there is no single musician working today whose career has been as long, creative, and consistently thrilling than that of Waits. Let's just be thankful he's aged so well, eh?