For every film star or reality TV celebrity determined to be a recording artist who actually has some musical talent, there are literally hundreds who don’t, and, sadly, Scarlett Johansson is among the latter. Doing justice to the colourful and well-loved work of Tom Waits would be a challenge for any interpretive stylist, so a novice like Johansson would’ve been better off trying out one of his numbers at a karaoke night first and then working up to cutting a tribute album with producer Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio), Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and David Bowie as a backing vocalist.
Considering that Johansson earns a living as an actor – ostensibly translating the written word into palpable emotions – it’s shocking how little of the humanity Waits has invested in his sharply drawn lyrics she’s able to convey. Every song is delivered with the same wispy little-girl-lost cooing that quickly loses its charm. She makes fellow starlet-turned-singer Jennifer Love Hewitt sound like Maria Callas. Sitek attempts to do Johansson (and us) a favour by burying her monotonous voice deep in the mix, but unfortunately, the musical support isn’t interesting enough to carry the album. Skip it.