Anywhere I Lay My Head
Anderson, Rick, Notes
Scarlett Johannson. Anywhere I Lay My Head. Atco 454524, 2008.
It has always been easy to underestimate Scarlett Johansson-famous for her lush figure and pouting lips, her intelligence and resourcefulness as an actress, not to mention her remarkable facility with accents, can easily be overlooked. On the evidence of her debut album she is also clearly an intelligent musician with unusual tastes, and if this collection of Tom Waits covers is something less than a complete musical success, it is not because she made the mistakes that so often doom the projects of actors-turned-musicians. To her great credit, she avoided most of the obvious song choices-there are no new versions of hits like "Downtown Train" or "Jersey Girl," and no attempt to mimic the faux-beatnik hipsterism of such early classics as "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" or "Heart attack and Vine." She took chances on the arrangements as well, bringing in producer Dave Sitek (of the band TV on the Radio) to shape the sound and Ivo Russell to sequence the tracks. But the result, while pleasant enough, feels like a missed opportunity. …