Critics of the U.S.A. overlook one significant fact about the place, viz., no other country in the world could have given us Tom Waits, which is sufficient reason to forgive a mountain of sins in my book! If Waits was ever going to make a bad record, he would surely have done so by now! This is business as usual in terms of the range of material (from sentimental ballads such as "Picture in a Frame" to stuff that makes your ears bleed like "Filipino Box Spring Hog") but he has never done it better, and it is decidedly more focused than his last three albums. As usual, his fondness for odd instrumentation is strongly evident, the home made, Harry Partch style percussion enhanced this time by computer programing and even a DJ(!). Marc Ribot's guitar playing would be sufficient reason in itself for buying this record, and Charlie Musselwhite's harmonica work is also notable. Waits also stretches his voice even further than usual on some tracks, particularly on the percussion driven "Eyeball Kid", where he is occasionally reminiscent of Pere Ubu's David Thomas. Again, there is a song that Bruce Springsteen would have liked to have written ("Hold On"), and plenty of dark humour, especially the spoken track "What's he Building?". Waits just goes from strength to strength. If the Americans really new what they were about, this man would be the front runner candidate for the upcoming presidentual elections!