Feb 6, 2008

Jukebox-Cat Power

I would believe that any 'covers' record is only as strong as the material covered. Or at the very least, dependent on the artist doing the covering. Well Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, is a very strong artist to say the least. To say I love her voice deeply and strongly would be an understatement of epic proportions. Her sultry, emotive voice always strike a deep chord with me. So her second go around at a covers album was eagerly anticipated. However the material chosen for "Jukebox" is a true case of a mixed bag. Some songs soar while some only limp to the line. The saving grace however is that Marshall's voice is so blessedly great that even the lesser songs are still quite enjoyable. I look forward to seeing her in March, again.

Ironically for a covers project, my two favourite songs are Cat Power originals. "Metal Heart" is a reworking of the song that first appeared on "Moon Pix". As suits her more recent style, it is a bluesier number, featuring lovely piano. The other original is "Song To Bobby", her heartfelt and moving tribute to Bob Dylan. Her story of a long time admiration for the great man is sung with effortless and stirring soul, as only Chan can. On to the covers. Well, my favourite is actually a Dylan one. Chan's version of "I Believe In You" is a strutting blues number with a stalking and ominous guitar line. Other good choices are "Silver Stallion", which features gorgeous lap steel guitar and wonderful melody and the George Jackson penned "Aretha, Sing One For Me" which is a rollicking and joyous blues number. The Billie Holliday tune "Don't Explain" is also a standout, where the vocals are sultry and refined and the brush drumming and piano add that smoky feel just needed. "Woman Left Lonely" (popularized by Janis Joplin) also delights with its soulful demeanour. Some of the other choices I feel are only worthwhile to listen to the pipes of Ms. Marshall. "New York", "Lost Someone" (James Brown) and "Blue" (Joni Mitchell) failed to strike a major chord with me. The Dirty Delta Blues Band (including Jim White) that accompanies Cat Power do a fine job on this album. Their playing is naturally fluid and graceful, hitting all the right notes. And of course Chan Marshall does this as well. As she always does. It is just a case, in my opinion, that not all the material matches the artist covering it. Next time around, I am hoping for an album full of Cat Power originals.

MP3: Metal Heart
MP3: Song To Bobby

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