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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much better than you might expect!
Ok, forget Tom Waits for a minute. He's a legend, but this isn't his album. What's the use in making a cover album if you're going to make every track just like the original?

This album has a character all of its own. Scarlett isn't the greatest singer ever, but her voice is husky and compelling and she holds a tune. Importantly (and contrary to what the album...
Published on 7 Sep 2009 by Matthew C. Baldwin

versus
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars People have been sharpening their knives, waiting for this release
Probably all listeners are going to come to Scarlett Johansson's debut album with preconceptions. There are many who hate the concept of actresses releasing albums (and with Lindsay Lohan, who can blame them?), envy her lifestyle (million dollar income, villa in the Hollywood Hills, Ryan Reynolds as fiance, etc.) or hate her for the Hollywood adulation and her already...
Published on 16 May 2008 by cathy earnshaw


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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars People have been sharpening their knives, waiting for this release, 16 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Probably all listeners are going to come to Scarlett Johansson's debut album with preconceptions. There are many who hate the concept of actresses releasing albums (and with Lindsay Lohan, who can blame them?), envy her lifestyle (million dollar income, villa in the Hollywood Hills, Ryan Reynolds as fiance, etc.) or hate her for the Hollywood adulation and her already gargantuan popularity. And there are those who are accused of weakening at the knees before the formidable marketing juggernaut, loving the idea of this album before they have even heard a note. She's subject to adulation to be sure, but also to ridicule, falling seemingly irresistibly into that actress-cum-singer shoebox.

The crucial question, however, is: IS IT ANY GOOD? And I would say yes and no. Her weird, angular voice is definitely a surprise (I don't remember it being such a croaky baritone in Lost in Translation), which strikes a refreshingly different chord to the hyperhigh, glass-shattering vocals of other female singers. But Scarlett's delivery is almost always drowned out by the epic soundscape that David Andrew Sitek has created around her and Tom Waits' songs: she's more of a feature on the album's musical landscape than occupying its centre stage. David Bowie lends a hand on vocals, too (more a measure of her star-studded connnections than the high esteem in which he holds her vocal ability and musical artistry, I would imagine). The uncharitable would say that her voice is deliberately overwhelmed to cover up the fact that she can't actually sing, but it's a shame that we don't hear more of it - precisely because her throaty, croaky voice is unusual and compelling. Those shoegaze and dreampop atmospherics - from which this album borrows to craft its sound - are nothing new, having had their heyday in the early nineties. The album improves, however, towards the end: by the eighth and ninth tracks, she shakes off the woozy, dreamy soundscape and lifts her voice out of its basement. Her vocals become more melodious and emotive, as well as being set against less dominant instrumentation, quicker beats, and the chinking acoustics of a little girl's jewellery box. We could have done with more of this liveliness.

Worth a listen: Anywhere I Lay my Head, Falling Down, Fannin Street, I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I Wish I Was in New Orleans

For fans of: Dot Allison, Mazzy Star, the gravelly voices of Marianne Faithfull and Nico

Not for fans of: Tom Waits, probably ;-)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much better than you might expect!, 7 Sep 2009
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Ok, forget Tom Waits for a minute. He's a legend, but this isn't his album. What's the use in making a cover album if you're going to make every track just like the original?

This album has a character all of its own. Scarlett isn't the greatest singer ever, but her voice is husky and compelling and she holds a tune. Importantly (and contrary to what the album cover might imply) this is not The Scarlett Johansson Hour. Her voice is just one ingredient in a rather sumptuous medley, and it is to her credit that she hasn't indulged a Hollywood ego by placing herself centre stage.

My girlfriend bought this album because she thinks Scarlett is pretty and glamorous. For pretty much the same reasons I assumed the album must be light-weight and trash. My girlfriend never listens to the album. I like it... a lot.

So if you can get over the Tom Waits versus Scarlett nonsense, and you like languorous melodies that are a bit out of the ordinary, give this a try. It's the Lost in Translation of albums - slow, seductive, and curiously likeable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars less than the sum of its parts, 24 May 2008
By 
A. Clarke "South of Heaven" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
I fell for the hype, despite knowing it was probably hype. The dreamy, shoe-gazing feel to this album is done far better by the likes of Amusement Parks On Fire, or even The Rave-onettes, and The Cocteau Twins had Liz Fraser, a uniquely gifted vocal talent.
Scarlett herself sings like an actress in a chorus line. Workmanlike at best. The over-production is claustrophobic. I kept waiting for the album to burst into life, but was disappointed. All the talents of Sitek, Nick Zinner et al cannot lift this effort above mediocre. They must have all had too much time on their hands.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No amount of "cool" changes the fact this isn't very good, 24 May 2008
By 
IWFIcon - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Paris Hilton makes a record and is pilloried from pillar to post; Scarlett Johansson on the other hand, despite her Justin Timberlake video cameo's seems to get the benefit of the doubt. Nothing to do with the fact that this is largely an album of Tom Waits songs. And the fact she's roped in a "hip" producer (Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio), has one of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on guitar and managed to rope in David Bowie in on backing vocals.

The NME love it, which isn't as surprising as it may seem. It's an event record, just one that happens to be padded out with a better supporting cast than the majority of Hollywood Actresses vanity projects. Although I'd be interested in how they would view it if a less "cool" actress had made the exact same record.

Her singing isn't bad (but then is no better than, say, Lindsay Lohan's) but as if to make up for the obvious deficits the production at times seems keen to drown her out, or at least make her a peripheral character in her own album. It's no bad thing as she doesn't have the character of voice to carry proceedings on her own.

All in all it's not bad. It's been lovingly crafted, offers up some interesting version of Waits' songs and the one new track, Song For Jo, does suggest that there might be mileage in a prolonged Sitek/Johansson musical relationship. But in the final analysis, it's an interesting curiosity - nothing more. This is not a record that normal music listeners with no need to seem cool will love.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I thought, 13 May 2008
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Scarlett Johansson - she's going to have her haters as let's face it, she is gorgeous, and if this was Claire Rayner singing a whole album of Tom Waits I doubt I'd of even bothered with the listen, but as an album I think this works pretty well. It's not going to be mainstream but as an indie-folk album it more than holds it's own. My girlfriend thought the lead single was good and then enquired to who was singing.

Her voice isn't what you'd expect (well not what I expected anyway) -it's pretty deep and could be accused of being a bit one dimensional on the evidence here.
I am no Tom Waits fan but this album has given me an incentive to check out his material, which is clearly a positive sign.

Fannin' Street, the title track and the first single Falling Down are definite stand outs - David Bowie's input on the first and later songs add an extra star to my rating, and his addition to the album, as well as manufacturing extra sales instantly is a masterstroke.
Coming into this album as an Indie / Rock boy I would say there is more than enough for me to enjoy.

It has it's weaker moments, and the album kind of blends into one nearer the end but this is an encouraging debut suggesting finally that a hollywood star could make it in the music world.
Next time maybe a few more original songs though please.

3.5 stars out of 5
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good effort from movie star turned singer., 13 May 2008
By 
M. K. Sutton "www.come2whereimfrom.co.uk" (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Pop stars becoming artists, artists' becoming actors and actors becoming pop stars, there has always been a tendency for people to try their hand at another trade and it normally ends badly, think Hasslehoff or Madonna. But some manage to do it very think Will Smith or Juliette Lewis and it pains me to say that you can now add Johansson to that list. On paper this record sounded terrible, ten Tom Waits covers and one original composition sung by the film starlet with a voice that no one has actually heard but dig a little deeper and you find out that none other than David Bowie sings on two tracks and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs plays guitar on several tracks. So to the music then, well it's actually pretty good and Johansson can sing, the easiest comparison is to liken it to Mazzy Star as she, with a little help from her friends, turns each song into a dreamy mellowed out soundscape. It's the kind of music that will be played everywhere because it is so inoffensive; think Morcheeba meets Portishead for the dinner party generation. That said it is of a better standard than most and shows that it's not just a vanity project for Johanssen it's a very serious affair. Where she goes with this sideline from here is anyone's guess but for now just enjoy the record for what it is with the sun shining, a glass of wine and some serious chilling out.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In good company, 20 May 2008
By 
possessed.by.a.lemon - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
Producer Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio fame and not Ms. Johansson is initially the star here, doing a sterling job of re-imagining songs from the Tom Waits catalogue. These interpretations and arrangements alone make Anywhere I Lay My Head an enticing prospect for Waits fans.

But we all know who gets star billing here and the shock of Johansonn's voice can be a little repellent at first. Her deep, untamed vocals do not match her Hollywood megastar looks one bit but she does call to mind a drunken Nico and by the time you come to the title track you find yourself succumbing to her charms. And a certain David Bowie pops up on backing vocals to offer a helping hand on two tracks, Falling Down and Fannin' Street.

So Anywhere I Lay My Head is left with the problem of not being awful enough to become a cult classic and not commercial enough for Scarlett to become the next Kylie. And for that we can only take our hats off to her. It's not as though this is even a selection of Waits' 'greatest hits'. The sole original track, Song For Jo, even gives reason to believe this could just be the audition for the actress's latest role as credible songstress in her own right.

What could, and perhaps should, have been a cringeworthy vanity project eventually turns out to be one of the better and more interesting albums you could add to your record collection this year.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, worth a listen, 14 May 2008
By 
Edward Mills (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
I think some of the reviews here are unfair and are simply just music snobbery. I'm not going to insinuate that this is one of the greatest albums ever, it isn't, but it is certainly a very good attempt considering how much rubbish tends to come as a result of actress-turn-singer albums.
The opening instrumental, Fawn, is a fantastically powerful track that (whilst I feel it's bizarre it's the opening and not the finale) is worth a listen if you're going to ignore the rest. Tracks such as 'Town with no cheer' and 'Fannin Street' make for a respectable album that is most certainly worth some of your time. The good thing, at the end of the day, is that it isn't just empty, manufactured pop music which can only be considered a bonus.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Look, I still buy CDs, 27 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
I originally bought this because I'm a loser and find her attractive, but I actually really love the album. I can see why some people would call it an acquired taste so I'd recommend previewing it on iTunes or Last.fm or something but I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very atmospheric with a complete sound that I would recommend to anyone who can get over their own prejudices, 12 Aug 2014
By 
chris "chrisellis93" (Croydon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anywhere I Lay My Head (Audio CD)
If this album of covers of Tom Waits' songs had been recorded by an indie band called My Name Is St Joan we'd all be raving about it. Very atmospheric with a complete sound that I would recommend to anyone who can get over their own prejudices.
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Anywhere I Lay My Head
Anywhere I Lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson
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