All Stripped Down
Label: Island Records
By bridging the jagged experimentalism of his '80s work and the elegance of his early ballads, Bone Machine is a major arrival for Waits. Clanking percussion and fuzz guitar make chest-beating rockers like "Goin' Out West" and "Jesus Gonna Be Here" strut with exultant sleaziness, and the cold-blooded narratives of "Black Wings" and "Murder In The Red Barn" reveal a powerful stylist at the top of his game. But for all the thrills and chills, its heartbreakers like "Who Are You" or "A Little Rain" that push things over the edge to make this a gothic mid-career masterpiece.