by Yonah Paley
One would be hard pressed to find a musical artist whose style is as distinct as Tom Waits'. Throughout his 40+ year career he has consistently released top-quality material, ranging in genre from blues, to jazz, to rock, and even to carnival music. However, it wouldn't be fair to classify Waits under any of these genre umbrellas. Even when pulling from specific musical influences, he manages to make the works his own. He imbues the songs with images of cities, grotesque characters, heartfelt emotion, and pain. His gravelly voice holds the power to bark of psychopaths and murderers, but also to croon beautiful ballads of love. There is quite simply no artist like him.
Throughout Waits' discography, he has evolved dramatically as an artist. Initially channeling his inner Frank Sinatra, and later experimenting with unusual instruments and production styles, his collection of albums is fun to listen to, yet also challenging and rewarding at the same time.
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