Atmosphere is the name of the game with this album. It swings from haunting to romantic and back to theatrical all during the span of 10 songs. This late into his career and To Bone Burnett is still experimenting with sound. Very cool!
Fresh off his successful stint as the producer of the Robert Plant/Allison Krause hit album, Burnett continues the success by using many of the same musicians. Much of the lyrical content is a result of a collaboration with playwright/actor Sam Shepard (Tooth of Crime is also the title of a play that Shepard wrote during the 70s). The topics range from an exaggerated reality, questions of identity, feeling like you don't fit in culturally, and tons of drama. It is full of imagination and totally original. You don't have to worry about the music being originally written for a play. The album stands well on its own.
Admittedly the album is dark, but there are also moments of black humour in it. It is not stuff that is for everyone, but there is plenty of food for thought within the album.