Scarlett Johansson Can Check “Release An Album” Off Her List Now

Dan Gibson | May 20, 2008 10:00 am

From time to time, we like to round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Under consideration today is the new full-length by Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head, which hits stores today:

• “It makes fine, mood-setting background music, but ultimately it does feel as if there is no real point to this record. Johansson, as in her acting roles, struggles to connect with a deep enough range of emotions. Waits documents ugly, messy emotions, and this is what makes his songs so moving. Johansson too often just sounds pleased with herself for being so clever and cool.” [The Telegraph]

• “Every song is like every other song, even the ones that sound different (such as the exercise in Spector-y early ’60s pop ‘Fannin Street’) or have David Bowie on them (‘Falling Down’). There’s a strange flatness, a dislocated, underwater quality to these songs that seems to subvert their original intent, that’s as far from Waits’s swallowed gravel delivery, his exaggerated sentimentality, as it’s possible to get and still be in the same universe.” [Washington Post]

• “Musically the album is a mixed bag. The title track sounds like it was preprogrammed on a department-store keyboard. Other songs, though, have more interesting stylings, such as the music-box introduction to ‘I Wish I Was in New Orleans’ and the Waits-ian clang on ‘Green Grass.’ David Bowie also lends his vocals to two tracks. But none of it is enough to save Johansson’s voice or convince listeners that this is more than a vanity project.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

• “With her low monotone, ScarJo aims for Nico but comes off like Sinéad on sopors–never more so than on the zombielike ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.’ In burying Johansson’s vocals so deeply in the druggy ambiance, producer David Andrew Sitek (of TV on the Radio) means well but ends up obscuring Waits’ great tunes.” [Entertainment Weekly]