T Bone Burnett
Tooth of Crime (Nonesuch)
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., June 6, 2008
T Bone BurnettTooth of Crime (Nonesuch)
T Bone Burnett's name has become so synonymous with Oscar-winning films and big-name production credits that his own life now plays like a movie. In fact, the Fort Worth-raised singer-songwriter's latest solo outing is a soundtrack he wrote for the production of a Sam Shepard play of the same name in 1996. The topic of celebrity culture, accented by Burnett's nasal bleat, bleeds through the steel blues of Tooth as he eschews "traditional" songs for mood-setting acts. Whether it's boggled lyrics ("Got a torture chamber orchestra in a delirium hotel") or the bleak statements within "Dope Island," "The Rat Age," or "Kill Zone" (co-written with Roy Orbison in 1988), this theme is reflected in the music – somber, menacing, creepy. Guitarist Marc Ribot adds a little flash to the gray affair, but Burnett prefers subtlety, which may have worked in theatre but not so much on disc.