Beauty and the Beat: Scarlett Johansson & Pete Yorn’s debut album

Scarlett Johansson has a multitude of films under her belt and plenty on her plate with Iron Man 2’s release this May, but in the meantime the release of her album alongside Pete Yorn ought to keep audiences talking. While this isn’t the first time Johansson has dipped her toe into the singing pool, her debut album “Anywhere I Lay My Head” met with mediocre reviews and minimal fanfare from most fans. Truth be told, the premise of everyone’s favorite ScarJo releasing a Tom Waits cover album got me far from riveted. As a huge fan of Tom Waits, and perhaps an elitist, just about anyone doing covers of Tom Waits upsets me a little.
However, as Johansson dives into new territory, she may have actually found her mark with “Break Up”. The first single off the album entitled “Relator” showcases Scarlett Johansson’s vocals with a rich, smoky sound. She shows incredible promise after the rather unremarkable release of her first album. With “Break Up” the music seems to support her strengths. One of the greatest worries as a listener was Johannson’s somewhat limited range. The fatal flaw of “Anywhere I Lay My Head” was her attempt to embody the husky voice of the vocally mature Tom Waits. What she ought to have done, and what she has done with this album, is found music to support her own husky voice. Although she is uniquely her own in this album, her vocals seem vaguely reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel’s work in the group She & Him. Still, what is perhaps most enchanting about her voice on the album is the ease with which she sings. The sultry tone of Johansson works beautifully for “Break Up” and shows potential for a future career.
However, Yorn’s role in the process cannot be altogether forgotten. He provides the refrain for “Relator”, which is part of the song’s biggest sell, and definitely carries his own weight on the album. While it would be unfair to say that Yorn carries Scarlett Johansson, he complements her vocals beautifully, providing the strength and timbre that is necessary for the album. However, this is not entirely surprising as a man who’s put out 4 solo albums. As the experienced musician in the situation, Yorn’s songwriting also lends itself to the album. The 9 song album may lack the diversity of some other notable duet acts, but that’s far from a bad thing. Instead, it shows a logical progression as the album follows the degradation of its title relationship. It offers its listeners an intimacy that it’s difficult to find in most music these days especially with killer pop hooks. The album begins with the more radio-friendly songs, starting off with “Relator”. The album’s evolution begins with its retro beach blanket pop before diving into other pop/rock radio-friendly fare and saves its more somber material for the album’s end. What the listener is left with is a complete emotional experience as well as infectious melodies.

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