Cat Power - The Covers Record
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Cat Power
The Covers Record

Chan Marshall has been around for awhile now doing her low-key songs and songwriting as Cat Power, but gaining a rather large following in the process. With a delicate voice, fairly simple song structures and just plain great songs, she's a cool rock chick without even seemingly trying. After releasing her Moon Pix record last year, she went on a bit of a hiatus before pretty much throwing together this collection of 12 re-makes. In saying that the release is thrown-together, I don't wish to imply anything. I read that Marshall hardly even rehearsed the songs before recording and yet they've nearly all come out amazing.

With tracks by groups such as the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan, it's hard to imagine some people not getting their toes stepped on, but Marshall moves tiptoes through the songs so beautifully that they really do become her own and even on a well-known track like the rolicking "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones is hardly recognizable.

In fact, the album starts out with just that track and it's nothing more than an acoustic guitar and vocals. One of the main reasons that things come out so unrecognizable is that she leaves the over-the-top chorus out of things alltogether, but taking the track and turning it into something played on an acoustic guitar with a simple chord progression makes it into something completely new and even beautiful (something you really can't say about the raucous original). The most amazing songs on the album, though, fall about halfway through with Marshall trading in the acoustic guitar for a piano. She covers her own Cat Power song of "In This Hole" with only the one instrument and her voice, and it's more affecting than anything that Tori or Fiona ever played (despite its simplicity).

That piano is back on the version of the Velvet Undergrounds "I Found A Reason" and "Wild Is The Wind" and while they're both slow and somber, it's that somewhat smokey voice that wafts through and intertwines with the soft chords and turns the songs into her very own tracks. Basically, if you like sad and slower albums with female vocals, this is one where you won't go wrong. The simplicity of it all (only one instrument and vocals) highlights her vocals even more and even when the disc closes out with the more upbeat "Sea Of Love," (which is probably the most faithful to the original of any song on the release), you'll still feel a bit of melancholy hovering over. If you're a fan of Cat Power, it's a given. More beautiful music.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00