Born in Mornroe, Louisiana, Hope Waits endured a childhood of poverty, alcholisom and neglect. She left home at 15, moved to South Carolina and began singing in church choirs. Early on, Hope developed a love for Billie Holiday.
Her mother was brutally murdered back in Louisiana. The case remains unsolved. Weeks after her mother's death Hope bought a guitar and began writing songs. She performed in the South with various jazz groups as well as her own solo singer/songwriter gigs. Eventually, Hope moved to Los Angeles where she met Norah Jones' producer Peter Malick.
Recorded in L.A. at Chessvolt Studios and Redstar Recording Studio, Introducing Hope Waits features musicians such as Butch Norton (Lucinda Williams), Jeff Turmes (Mavis Staples), David Woodford (Aersomith) and Lee Thornburg. The album was produced by Malick, David Kalish (Rickie Lee Jones) and Barry Maguire (Natalie Merchant).
The disc opens with a laid back jazzy version of Barry Gordy's "I'll Be Satisfied". Malick's tune, "You Crossed That Line", counts as a blues-based slow burning rocker. Hope's voice emits real inspiration. A great Waits/Malick composition, "Fortune Teller" contains a quiet sonic landscape where all the hypnotic elements of Hope's voice intersect.
A jazz-laced version of Tom Waits' (no relation) "Get Behind The Mule" indicates her proclivity to lean towards great songwriters...what an angelic voice on this gritty tune. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells" stands out as one of this collection's finest. "Drown In My Own Tears" conveys pure heart break. Another Waits/Malick tune, "The Ballad of Judith Anne" evokes low-light bars and far away eyes.
"Cigarettes and Coffee" sounds like it may have been recorded on Stax Records in 1968. Hope covers the Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen song "Come Rain or Shine" with sultry soul. The final track, "Ignatius", ends this album with an unforgettable sad-eyed sentiment that pulls at the heart strings.