Tom Waits’ singing voice sounds like Christian Bale’s version of Batman eating a handful of gravel. Somehow in spite of (or maybe because of) his eccentric style, he remains one of the most influential performers around. At the age of 61 he’s still touring and making new music, influencing yet another generation of musicians.
London’s Goldheart Assembly stopped by the Daytrotter studio to cover a track from Waits’ time-honored Rain Dogs, following a trend begun with Delta Spirit’s recent Tom Waits-only set. “Clap Hands” is a perfect example of Waits’ inimitable style: the ominous, sparse instrumentation; the dark storyline; the lyrics grumbled in a way only Waits can pull off. Goldheart Assembly may not be able to top the original in terms of weirdness, but they manage to match the foreboding aura, replacing the marimba with piano and Waits’ growl with pretty, Fleetwood Mac-style harmonies. The bizarre guitar solo is redone here in a more classical styling, and is actually pretty epic considering the constraints of performing at Daytrotter (one day to record, often in one take). The results speak for themselves and if you ever need a little Tom Waits without the crazy, spin this one.