Waits’ next album, Nighthawks at the Diner, plays like a popular lounge show. Waits played in front of a live audience to give it the feel of a live performance. It’s wonderful. Waits transitions fully into the lounge singer we love, his voice is forming that beautiful crust, his throat is about a ¼ full of screws, Ol’ Tom’s just startin’ that used motor oil diet he became famous for; cult folk singer Thomas Allan Waits is now famed lounge singer Tom Waits. It’s a wonderful thing to experience. This is Waits breaking out, he found a sweet spot and he soars. Waits was good in his past efforts, but now, he’s soaring. He’s incredibly natural, it’s as if he’s channeled a demon. It’s pure magic.
After Closing Time, Waits’ sound shifted gears from the emulated folk sound into a colder and paradoxically both rougher and smoother, jazz sound that is more familiar to Waits’ fans.
It was no coincidence that the next record, The Heart of Saturday Night, had album art styled after Sinatra’s concept album In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Waits’ biggest inspiration at the time had to have been Sinatra, as the record takes a more subtle approach. Waits’ voice is still much like it was in Closing Time, although he seems a bit more comfortable. While Closing Time had only a couple of piano ballads, The Heart of Saturday Night is a piano ballad album from start to finish, painting a somber picture. The combination of Sinatra and Dylan inspiration is odd, but it’s nice and slick.
Closing Time, 1973
(I already had Closing Time in my report so I didn’t type up a review. Here’s a short one)
Emulates 60s folk scene with slight hint at future jazz sound