Hope Waits is a lovely chanteuse from New Orleans whose voice reminds me vaguely of Norah Jones, but I cant imagine Jones doing Tom Waits "Get Behind the Mule" with as much bite or raw sensuality as Waits (no relation) does on her eponymous debut. Guitarist Peter Malick produced Hope Waits, but dont let his association with Jones throw you off the track here. Waits has her own strong interpretive skills, and if "Get Behind the Mule" doesnt convince you, her take on Dylans "Ring Them Bells" should do the trick. She breathes new life into "Drown In My Own Tears," and she gives Jackie Wilsons "Ill Be Satisfied" a healthy dose of New Orleans funk.
Malick has surrounded Waits with distinctive players, including former Eels drummer Butch Horton and bassist Jeff Turmes. Many of the musicians on the disc, including Turmes, have their own songwriting careers and bring a respect for the writers craft to their work here. They give Waits exactly what she needs, from the low-down distortion Malick provides on his own "You Crossed the Line" to the old New Orleans jazz that perfectly accompanies Waits rendering of Jerome Kernss "Yesterdays." Waits and Malick co-wrote three of the tunes here, and Waits has an eye for detail that she blends successfully with haunting melodies.
Malick has arrayed the instruments behind Waits in a wide soundstage, and he has focused her voice sharply out front. Hope Waits is an emotionally honest singer who chooses her material wisely, and Malick has produced an honest, very enjoyable CD for her.
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