Anywhere I Lay My Head

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Anywhere I Lay My Head
Studio album by Scarlett Johansson
Released May 16, 2008 (2008-05-16)
Recorded 2007; Dockside Studios
(Maurice, Louisiana)
Genre Indie folk, alternative rock, dream pop
Length 44:23
Label Atco
Producer David Andrew Sitek
Scarlett Johansson chronology
Anywhere I Lay My Head
(2008)
Break Up
(2009)
Singles from Anywhere I Lay My Head
  1. "Falling Down"
    Released: March 18, 2008
  2. "Anywhere I Lay My Head"
    Released: May 27, 2008

Anywhere I Lay My Head is the debut studio album by American actress Scarlett Johansson, released on May 16, 2008 by Atco Records. Johansson recorded the album over five weeks in spring 2007 at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana.[1] It was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and includes collaborations with David Bowie and members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Celebration.[2]

Anywhere I Lay My Head contains four songs written by Tom Waits, six songs written by Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan, and one original composition, "Song for Jo". Upon release, the album received mixed reviews from critics, and saw moderate commercial success. "Falling Down" was released as the album's lead single.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 58/100[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[5]
Drowned in Sound 6/10[6]
Entertainment Weekly C[7]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[8]
NME 8/10[9]
The Observer 4/5 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media 5.5/10[11]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[12]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[13]
Spin 5/10[14]

Anywhere I Lay My Head received mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 58, based on 35 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4] Priya Elan of the NME called the album "brilliant" and wrote that "just like Lou Reed with Nico and Serge Gainsbourg with Brigitte Bardot, Sitek has effortlessly translated Johansson's magnetism on to record", while comparing her "deep" voice to "latter-day Ronnie Spector's street-savvy tone".[9] The Observer's Barney Hoskyns commented that Johansson's "blankly androgynous alto timbre is nothing special, but that barely matters", praising the album as "a bravely eccentric selection and a captivating homage to a singular writer".[10] The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey characterized Johansson's voice as "a supple, languid instrument offering hints of Nico, Kim Deal and Martina Topley-Bird" and stated, "You might wish there was more from Waits' 70s barfly period [...] but it's a measure of this album's surprising allure that you're left wanting more."[8] Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine found Johansson to be "surprisingly deep and brittle as a singer", concluding that the album "doesn't quite work, but it can't quite be dismissed, either: unlike so many actor-turned-singer records, there's not a hint of vanity to this project and it's hard not to marvel at its ambition even as it fails."[5] Matt Fink of Paste magazine stated that Johansson's "willingness to allow the arrangements to transform Waits' creaky intimacy into wide-eyed atmosphere ultimately results in the rare covers album that actually has its own identity."[15] In another review for Paste, however, Amanda Petrusich felt that Johansson's singing "feels strangely sluggish and plodding", writing, "These songs were already so impeccably performed that Johansson didn't have very many new places to take them, and although her effort and nerve are commendable, 'not as terrible as you thought it would be' just isn't the same thing as good."[15]

The Village Voice's Stacey Anderson remarked that Johansson is "a monotonous singer, with a garrulous flat alto that swoops uneasily to sub-Nico baritone [...] But thankfully, Sitek recognizes her limitations and wisely pairs her with Waits's most frankly plaintive lyrics until the emotion drips through".[16] Mikael Wood of Spin magazine wrote, "Beyond the fact that her voice is deep enough for her to front Crash Test Dummies, there's nothing particularly compelling about Scarlett Johansson's singing", adding that "her vocals are buried deep beneath [...] Dave Sitek's mountain of reverbed space-gospel noise." Wood nevertheless noted the album is "[n]ot your typical Hollywood vanity project".[14] Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly opined, "In burying Johansson's vocals so deeply in the druggy ambiance, producer David Andrew Sitek [...] means well but ends up obscuring Waits' great tunes."[7] Rolling Stone's Will Hermes critiqued that "Johansson's voice is unremarkable and her pitch sometimes unsteady", dubbing her "a faintly goth Marilyn Monroe lost in a sonic fog". Hermes complimented the tracks "I Wish I Was in New Orleans", "Fannin Street", and "Song for Jo", but claimed that "the synth-pop version of 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up,' famously covered by the Ramones, makes you wish Joey was still around to take the mike."[12] Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork Media viewed the album as "a Brooklyn update on vintage 4AD bands like This Mortal Coil or Cocteau Twins", but ultimately noted that "[t]he only thing we've learned about her is that she really, really likes Tom Waits. That's more than enough to avoid catastrophe, but not quite enough to make Anywhere I Lay My Head much more than a curio."[11] Slant Magazine's Dave Hughes expressed that Johansson is "neither a particularly interesting nor a particularly skillful singer, and she spends much of the record locked into a sub-Nico hum that's quite a bit less charismatic than her husky line readings might suggest."[13] Drowned in Sound's Alex Denney concluded, "Perversely given the record's comprehensive musical overhaul it's perhaps a surfeit of respect for the source material that proves Anywhere...'s undoing; for all its undoubted accomplishments there's a lingering suspicion that this is too safe, too respectable a record to do justice to an artist who remains forever mid-topple from the bar stool in the popular consciousness."[6]

Commercial performance[edit]

Anywhere I Lay My Head debuted at number 126 on the Billboard 200, selling 5,100 copies in its first week.[17] The album fared better in Europe, reaching number fifteen in Switzerland, number twenty-five in Austria, number twenty-six in France, number twenty-seven in Sweden, and number thirty in Belgium and Germany.[18] By August 2009, the album had sold about 25,000 copies worldwide.[19]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Fawn" (from Alice) Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan 2:32
2. "Town with No Cheer" (from Swordfishtrombones) Waits 5:03
3. "Falling Down" (from Big Time) Waits 4:55
4. "Anywhere I Lay My Head" (from Rain Dogs) Waits 3:38
5. "Fannin Street" (from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards) Waits, Brennan 5:06
6. "Song for Jo"   Scarlett Johansson, David Andrew Sitek 4:09
7. "Green Grass" (from Real Gone) Waits, Brennan 3:33
8. "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" (from Small Change) Waits 3:59
9. "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" (from Bone Machine) Waits, Brennan 4:11
10. "No One Knows I'm Gone" (from Alice) Waits, Brennan 2:57
11. "Who Are You" (from Bone Machine) Waits, Brennan 4:20

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Anywhere I Lay My Head adapted from liner notes.[22]

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Germany[38] May 16, 2008 Warner Music
France[39] May 19, 2008
United Kingdom[40] Rhino Entertainment
United States[1] May 20, 2008 Atco Records
Sweden[41] May 21, 2008 Warner Music
Australia[42] May 23, 2008
Japan[21] June 25, 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cohen, Jonathan (January 24, 2008). "Johansson Sets Date For Waits Covers Disc". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ Solarski, Matthew (February 13, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson Album Has Tracklist, David Bowie!". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Goodman, William (May 7, 2008). "New Video: Scarlett Johansson, "Falling Down"". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Anywhere I Lay My Head – Scarlett Johansson". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Anywhere I Lay My Head – Scarlett Johansson". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Denney, Alex (April 30, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved May 2, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Willman, Chris (May 16, 2008). "Anywhere I Lay My Head (2008)". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b Lynskey, Dorian (May 16, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head". The Guardian. Retrieved May 18, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b Elan, Priya (May 2, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved May 2, 2008. 
  10. ^ a b Hoskyns, Barney (May 18, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head". The Observer. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (May 19, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson: Anywhere I Lay My Head". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 19, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Hermes, Will (May 29, 2008). "Anywhere I Lay My Head : Scarlett Johansson". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Hughes, Dave (May 19, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson: Anywhere I Lay My Head". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Wood, Mikael (May 29, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson, 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' (ATCO)". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Fink, Matt; Petrusich, Amanda (May 15, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson: Anywhere I Lay My Head". Paste. Paste Media Group. Retrieved May 22, 2008. 
  16. ^ Anderson, Stacey (May 20, 2008). "Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits Tribute". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ Harris, Chris (May 28, 2008). "American Idol David Cook, Runner-Up David Archuleta Dominate Billboard Downloads Chart". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
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  21. ^ a b "Scarlett Johansson / スカーレット・ヨハンソン 「Anywhere I Lay My Head / レイ・マイ・ヘッド」" (in Japanese). Warner Music Japan. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  22. ^ Anywhere I Lay My Head (CD liner notes). Scarlett Johansson. Atco Records. 2008. R2 454524. 
  23. ^ "ARIA Hitseekers – Week Commencing 2nd June 2008". ARIA Charts. Pandora Archive. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head" (in German). austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
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  26. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard 120 (23): 67. June 7, 2008. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  27. ^ "Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head" (in French). lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head" (in German). charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Top 75 Artist Album, Week Ending 22 May 2008". Chart-Track. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head". spanishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head". swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
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  39. ^ "Anywhere I lay my head : Scarlett Johansson" (in French). Fnac. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Anywhere I Lay My Head (International Version)". Rhino UK. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Anywhere I Lay My Head – Johansson Scarlett" (in Swedish). CDON.se. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
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