Closing Time review by Tom Waits

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1973
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (12 votes)
Tom Waits: Closing Time

Sound — 9
This is an album that I'd personally describe as an album that should be listened to in the dark alone to get the full experience. It is essentially what I'd call "night music". Waits creates this mood by either writing in a slow, ballady country rock style, or a lazy jazz feel. It also helps that every single track, bar one or two, is down-tempo. This isn't anything quite like the work Waits has done in all his albums after Closing Time. For the most part, the songs feel lonely and desolate, like "Lonely" and "Martha", but some also have a warm feel to them, for example "Ol' 55"(which the Eagles covered two years later and had huge success) and "Rosie". However, some songs have a distinct, contrasting jazz feel, such as the songs "Midnight Lullaby" and "Virginia Avenue".The somewhat desolate songs mainly consist of piano, occasionally with the guitar, and saxophone for the jazzier songs. However, two songs that break the mould are "Ice Cream Man", an excellent up tempo jazz song, with an outstanding guitar part, and "Old Shoes(And Picture Postcards)" which is a relatively upbeat song, probably the most country song on the album, which offer the listener a somewhat welcome break from the occasional dreariness of some of the rest of the album. Honestly, the only flaw I can find with the sound is that it could possibly get tedious and boring for certain listeners to sit through a multitude of downbeat songs, that can often be quite depressing. Otherwise, this is a classic album, of the likes which Waits never really ventured into again.

Lyrics — 7
Tom Waits is known for lyrical genius, and I suppose this is one of this albums main downfalls-but only for the sole reason it doesn't compare to the later Waits(lyrically). However, having said that, there is nothing wrong with these lyrics at all. Again, they cannot be compared to other lyrics from Waits, because there isn't half as much lyrical content. For example, "Lonely" is a song that tends to repeat itself lyrically(however, it's made up for the intense and overpowering feeling of loneliness and isolation the song gives). The album isn't anything special lyrically, but then again, there's nothing really wrong with it.

Overall Impression — 9
A unique, and often overlooked album from Waits, as it is his earliest, and completely lacks the gruff tone he adopted years later. But it should not be overlooked, rather glorified, because I find it to be one of the most moving and powerful albums I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. The atmosphere it creates is often intense(depending on the listener's mood). "Closing Time" was a perfect name for this album, because the majority of the songs paint a picture of a man wandering the streets at 2 o clock in the morning, singing to himself. An incredible, must have album for any Waits fan that hasn't already discovered it. And also for people who never had To Waits in any high regard, because this is so different from his later work. A fantastic piece of work.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    He's an incredible human being, HOWEVER, this is far from his best work, he's still finding his musical voice in this album, and his sound isn't AS develpoed. Regarding that though, this is a brilliant album.