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Scarlett Johansson describes the recording of her Tom Waits covers album, “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” as an “intimate experience — almost private, in a way.”

Of course, when you’re a Hollywood actress, Louis Vuitton model and occasional tabloid fixture, pretty much nothing is private.

That’s the challenge facing Atco/Rhino Records as it promotes the album, due May 20. Johansson is a familiar face — and name recognition is a definite marketing bonus — but the phrase “actress-turned-singer” is bound to set off warning bells.

“I don’t think being a celebrity is a hindrance — I think it will get people curious,” project manager Liuba Shapiro said. “It’s not like a Paris (Hilton) brand. Scarlett has credible performances (as an actress).”

Johansson’s take on Waits, thanks in part to her teaming with TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek for production, as well as Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and David Bowie on backing vocals, is an atmospheric reinvention of the gravelly-voiced singer’s work. It’s designed to appeal to those curious about Johansson’s vocal prowess, Waits fans and those who like their melodies layered and dreamy.

The album has Waits’ stamp of approval, Johansson said. “It would be mortifying otherwise. It’s such a valentine for his work. I wanted to have that approval. Now I don’t have to look out for him in a dark, crowded place.”

The video for first single “Falling Down,” directed by Oscar-nominated Capote helmer Bennett Miller, is a cinema verite look at a day in the life of Johansson, including photo shoots and kicking back with Salman Rushdie.

In terms of touring, Johansson’s movie-shooting schedule makes it difficult to plan dates. The album, in fact, was recorded last summer but could only be released now because of her schedule, the label said. Another complicating factor is what Johansson calls her “crippling stage fright.”

Source: Reuters/Billboard

4 Comments to "Johansson Ready to Take “Private” Songs Public"
  1. JAYE says:

    I hope that she will continue singing and put out some original work.

  2. Caroline. says:

    There is an original song on the album.

  3. Brett says:

    The album is actually really good, in an 80s-shoegazer sort of way. It’s full of atmospheric white noise and walls of synthy fuzz. It’s Tom Waits’ low-fi folk interpreted through an 80s British drug music lens. It’s clear that Scarlett is a huge fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain (I wonder if this predated Lost In Translation, which forever married her to the song “Just Like Honey”?) and she offers a nice 21st-century spin on it here. I reviewed the whole album on my website last week.

  4. Ella says:

    I think that Scarlett’s music is very original and I believe that it will suit many different people from many different culture’s. Keep up the good work Hunni.

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