I must praise this album for all that it is worth. Perhaps some hard-core Waits fans may disagree with me, but I'll go out on a limb and say it: this could be the most important piece of your collection. What it promises to do on the CD cover, and delivers upon, is to bring the authentic, rich, small room tightly-packed with close friends and diverse faces atmosphere of a stop along the smoke-filled-bar room tour of a very promising young bluesman. Waits challenges his captivated audience to recall an era in early American music when each sentence was written with integrity and personality controlled beautifully by a gritty, aged voice. Although the album has a few "soft-spots" in its playlist, the first several songs are filled with bountiful memorable tunes and melodies which shall certainly swim around in your mind for hours, and days, even. If you've ever been transported into comfortable company in some imaginary wooden rocking chair overlooking a dusty road of puddles and pebbles while listening to the likes of John Hurt, Leadbelly, or Dylan's rare work ("Rock Me Mama", "I Love You But You're Strange (title?)", the Cash recordings, etc.), you're sure in for a treat. It's worth the trip to another time and place, one of borderline blues/folk feel, and where authenticity creeps out from the floorboards' cracks. I can hear the whispers now, the crackling transistor radio, the tall grasses blowing against the backside of the house, and a wail and a yelp and a moan from Tom Waits as his tapping foot sends vibrations across the kitchen's wooden dance floor. Come on now, pull up a chair and relax. Melt in the atmosphere.