It's difficult to listen to Scarlett Johansson's debut release and not reference at least 20 other bands who have done or are doing similar things. One reason for these references is because Anywhere I Lay My Head is not a solo project by the starlet-Scarlett. Featured on the album are Ryan Sawyer (TV on the Radio, At the Drive-In, Fiery Furnaces, Mekons, et al.), Jaleel Bunton (TV on the Radio), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Sean Antanaitis (Celebration) and David Bowie (!). The partnership of these artists isn't surprising, since they—excluding Johansson—have all worked together on previous releases. The experience shows.
Most of the tracks sound like a new TV on the Radio album with added percussion such as Tibetan bowls, bells, wind chimes, rainsticks and a kalimba (reminiscent of Vetiver's To Find Me Gone album). There is a drum machine as well, though all the percussion has been recorded in a haunted muted distance. Because Johansson has such a low croon, the combination of all these elements actually sounds quite a bit like Devotion, last year's stellar release from Beach House, a Baltimore band closely related to several of the members of this super-group. All of the songs but one—"Song for Jo"—are Tom Waits covers, so they were written for this type of low, raspy voice, and Johansson actually delivers. The album is a good listen all the way through. Poor Damn Yankees, but it's nice to know that some super-groups are actually "super."