It appears that Southside Johnny and Rosenberg spent much time making sure they develop fresh musical approaches to each of Waits’ songs. For example, the jauntiness of "Dead and Lovely" compares with the casual sway of the rlush eminiscing waltz "Shiver Me Timbers," which contrasts yet again with the irrepressible force and finger-snapping swing of "Down, Down, Down." Such considerations attest to the arrangers’ appreciation of the widely varied content of Waits’ lyrics, and excitement ensues. The ruefulness of "Yesterday Is Here’s" sentiment "today is gray skies, tomorrow is tears, you have to wait ‘til, yesterday is here" makes natural an underplayed three-four minor-key accompaniment, which builds also to the final lyrical paradox. Oddly enough, "All the Time in the World" takes inspiration from John Barry’s James Bond themes with its twanging guitars and pulsating electric bass lines, and Southside digs into the opportunity with wit and verve. "New Coat of Paint" requires brassy swagger and strut with a strong backbeat to make sure that no one misses the point as Southside sings "New coat of paint / On this lonesome old town / Set ‘em up / We’ll know ‘em on down." "Johnsburg, Illinois," on the other hand, is almost completely a story told in song, and it begins with an evocative cadenza before Southside briefly recalls in less than two minutes "my only true love / is all that I think of."
The highlight of Grapefruit Moon occurs with Tom Waits joins Southside Johnny on "Walk Away," a song that allows like-minded give-and-talk and a lot of fun too. Despite the differences in their voices Waits’ gritty and Southside’s unpredictably varied they join in insouciant conversation and unison delivery of lyrics.
Despite the special nature of the Southside Johnny’s exploration of Waits’ music, Rosenberg’s band, with its outstanding soloists and unified feel for the music, can’t be given enough credit for the success of the album as well. Indeed some of the musicians from the Conan O’Brien house band including Rosenberg, Jerry Vivino and Mark Pender share memorable solos on the recording. Grapefruit Moon is without a doubt a treat, well produced, thoughtful, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.