Patty Griffin turns Tom Waits’ elegiac, cinematic “Ruby’s Arms” into a sparse, somehow even more heartbreaking piano ballad for a new compilation, Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits. She adds a minute to the runtime of the original song, which appeared on Waits’ 1980 album Heartattack and Vine, and allows her voice to ache all over the lyrics in a way that shows a new depth to the lyrics, contrasting Waits’ gruff original.
The tribute album, due out November 22nd, features covers of Waits’ song performed by women, including Aimee Mann, Rosanne Cash, Phoebe Bridgers, Iris Dement, and many others. Another standout that the label has released early is Courtney Marie Andrews’ take on the brooding Rain Dogs single “Downtown Train.” In the hands of the folk and country singer, it’s a little lighter and twangier, and the arrangement shows off the lyrics a little more. Most impressive is how it builds to a glorious crescendo:
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“After some great creative discussions many years back with an old publishing colleague, the concept of focusing on the sheer beauty of these songs by having them interpreted by a group of amazing artists with stunning voices, was a must-do project,” Scott Robinson, CEO of the label that’s issuing the compilation, Dualtone, said in a statement. “Fast forward 15 years later, we were thrilled with the passion and enthusiasm these artists showed when we approached them with the idea, which you can hear in their performances. Truly a musical celebration.”
Tom Petty biographer and former Del Fuegos frontman Warren Zanes served as the record’s producer. “In just the way Dylan cuts the definitive version but never stakes out the song’s territory in a way that leaves no room for majestic covers, the recordings I was gathering were showing me the remarkable strength, the resonance of Waits’ stuff,” he wrote in the album’s liner notes. “No one took ownership of the material, it was all on loan, still belonged to Tom Waits. But what a series of loans! And that’s how it is with the very, very best songs.”
Come On Up to the House track list:
1. Joseph – “Come On Up To The House”
2. Aimee Mann – “Hold On”
3. Phoebe Bridgers – “Georgia Lee”
4. Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer – “Ol’ 55”
5. Angie McMahon – “Take It With Me”
6. Corinne Bailey Rae – “Jersey Girl”
7. Patty Griffin – “Ruby’s Arms”
8. Rosanne Cash – “Time”
9. Kat Edmonson – “You Can Never Hold Back Spring”
10. Iris Dement – “House Where Nobody Lives”
11. Courtney Marie Andrews – “Downtown Train”
12. The Wild Reeds – “Tom Traubert’s Blues”
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