Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head (ATCO)
Lisa Norman | Monday, 21 July 2008
After being considered for the role of Maria in 2005 for Lloyd Webber’s West End hit The Sound of Music, it comes as no surprise that Scarlett Johansson has jumped on the musical bandwagon. Recorded at Dockside Studio in Louisiana, debut offering Anywhere I Lay My Head is surprisingly unique and original.
Johansson's fairly manly vocal is actually pretty good and the vibe is reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor’s 'Nothing Compares To You'. Unfortunately, this continues throughout until the drone becomes just a touch too monotonous. The album is very distinctive, featuring ten Tom Waits covers and only one original track, titled 'Song For Jo'. With a plethora of musical talents on board, it’s clear the production is of a high standard.
Produced by TV on the Radio's David Andrew Sitek and joined by Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, the result is an ambitious release by the 23-year-old starlet. The music has an ethereal orchestral feel to it, with haunting melodies and a voice to match. Far from the expected squeaky pop vocal, Johansson delivers each track with a gruff, masculine quality which is strangely alluring. Instrumentally, the flavour infuses ambient guitars and bells with a synth-heavy bass. It is ghostly and eerie and is perhaps used too frequently throughout.
Stand out tracks include 'Fannin Street' with its strong melody and cracking lyrics and 'Falling Down', featuring musical icon David Bowie. The combination of two such distinctive voices is a fantastic mix. These two were the ones that stood out from the masses as being truly individual and keeping enough of a catchy tune to hold interest.
This is a brave debut, but don't expect this to reach the pop masses, as most probably wouldn’t understand it. There isn't an ounce of an upbeat melody - Anywhere I Lay My Head would make much better background listening than mainstream. In addition, don’t expect to be able to play this at your party and get people dancing - it's more likely they'll leave depressed. The album is a strange and repetitive mix of what seems to be the same song over and over. While many may find themselves lost in translation, for her first attempt it's fairly impressive.