‘Martha’ is taken from Waits’ 1973 debut album, Closing Time. If you’re a Tom Waits fan, you’ll notice immediately that his voice, by his standards, is clear as a bell.
In fact, on a scale from butter and silk to gravel and whiskey, this only comes in at dust and wine. There’s some light distortion but otherwise, he sounds fine.
The song is otherwise laid out very simply. The main accompaniment to Wait’s inimitable vocals is a piano. Later, a delicate string arrangement comes in to add another layer of depth. No drums. Just harmony.
The lyrics are poignant – it’s about an man reminiscing about a woman he was going out with, and still loves. The sad part is that they are both married, adding a heavy cloak of wistfulness to proceedings.