Waits' new three-disc, 56-song album is a microcosm of his career as a recording artist. It is epic in its scope: one part rugged blues (disc one), one part tender ballads (disc two) and one part crazy shit (disc three). Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards plays like an extended remix of Waits' 1999 classic, Mule Variations. "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" recalls the sweet sentiment of "Picture in a Frame." "Walk Away" is the same bass-inspired blues of "Get Behind the Mule." "Army Ants" is a creepy spoken-word rant (detailed with images of liquor-tinged scorpions eating themselves) akin to the Rod Serling-like basement mystery "What's He Building?"
Most pop musicians brand themselves with a singular sound. Waits may be known for his distinctively raspy voice, but his songs are all over the map. Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards luxuriates in a trinity of styles masterfully made by a one-of-a-kind artist.