I don't expect anyone here except maybe Donnie to care, but what the fuck.
I'm a huge Tom Waits fan. He's one of my favorite vocalists - for those of you guys not familiar with his work, he does bluesy/jazzy/almost abstract folk-y shit with sub-baritone growled vocals that could almost fit in a death metal context (in fact, I'm supposed to be burning my dad some Opeth, because when I played him a track or two he was so impressed with the vocalist because of how he reminded him of Tom Waits).
So, basically, the guy has a crazy voice, and I absolutely love it. Then I grabbed "Closing Time," one of his earliest albums. It absolutely blew my mind because it was completely not what I was expecting - I had to double-check to make sure someone else wasn't singing with Tom on this one. The dude was actully singing, not growling along in key, and it was way more country influenced than anything else I'd ever heard from him.
It took me a couple listens, but I've decided that I love it, now that I've gotten used to the change in vocal - it reminds me a bit of John Prine, but lyrically it's all Tom.
Still, if you compare something like "Old Shoes (And Picture Postcards)" and "Martha" off Closing Time to "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind In Copenhagen)" or "Invitation to the Blues" recorded only three years later, and it's just shocking how much his voice and his overall sound had changed...
Also, even more mindblowing - he recorded this album, with a voice and lyrics that make him sound older than dirt, at the age of twenty-four.
I've only listened to it once as I haven't managed to get through his rather large back catalog but I do remember being a tad weirded out by it because, like you said, no signature Waits growl.
How is it lyrically Drew? I honestly can't remember from my one brief listen ages ago, so long as it has that unmistakable dingy Waits style I'll probably get on quite well with it, I'll make sure I pick it up on my next CD run.
Also wasn't this the one that the Eagles covered a song off as well?