It's not bad. It has its moments. Even Tom Waits that I'm not overwhelmed by is a damn sight better than 99% of the rest of the music out there, god knows. And, yeah, it has its moments.
Unfortunately, Tom Waits had this one moment, way back on Bone Machine, and I've been buying every album since hoping to hear that sound again. The song was "Black Wings" and it stands as one of his best, so far as I'm concerned, up there with "Gun Street Girl.". And Waits never did anything like it again. Frankly, I liked Rain Dogs and Bone Machine better than any of his more recent stuff, but eh, I'm unsophisticated--the old kind of freakshow Americana thing totally worked for me. He still hits it occasionally, but not so much.
Thing is...there's this sound. It's a kind of...mmm...apocalyptic folk rock. Three of my all-time favorite songs--the aforementioned "Black Wings", Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand," and Firewater's "Dark Days Indeed," has that sound. I don't know how to explain it any more clearly.
Problem is, nobody I've found does that particular sound consistently, with the sole exception of Nick Cave, back when he was doing all the drugs and hadn't found religion yet. Henry's Dream and Murder Ballads had a lot of that, and I love it desperately.
So I implore you, O readership--Does anybody else you know sound like that?