Music » CD Reviews

Scarlett Johansson

Anywhere I Lay My Head (Rhino/Atco)



It's easy to argue that actress Scarlett Johansson treads sacred ground on Anywhere I Lay My Head, her tribute to avant-pop legend Tom Waits. It's certainly a ballsy move for her to cover 10 of Waits' songs on her debut album. But TV on the Radio's David Sitek (who arranges and produces) saves it from complete catastrophe, reformatting Waits' quirky style into something dark, atmospheric, and haunting — in a way that's different from Waits' version of dark, atmospheric, and haunting.

The deep-voiced Johansson evokes hazy distance throughout Anywhere I Lay My Head, but listeners will still connect with the nuances — a banjo lining "Falling Down," the nursery chimes of "I Wish I Was in New Orleans." Still, Waits' signature voice and lyricism are missed, even as the album recontextualizes the pliable material. Yes, it occasionally comes off as a novelty piece. But sometimes novelties, like the equally supple Silly Putty, can be loads of fun.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.