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Alternative & Indie - Released October 5, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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A guitar held up by the neck, a child's head pressed against the holder's body. Cat Power reveals a lot with the cover of her tenth album. The American is up and running again and now she is a mother. At 46, Chan Marshall seems to be doing... better? Well, It's not as if her life, which has been studded with internal chaos, turbulence, a lot of moving around, depression and addiction is going to be all plain sailing from here on in, but Wanderer contains some of her most beautiful songs yet. Stripped-down compositions. A simple piano. A few notes on a guitar. A lean rhythm section. It's clear that the message here is "less is more." Perhaps her aim is to return to the roots of her old folk and blues mentors. Bringing a child into the world during the Trump era is enough to get anyone thinking again... And Cat Power hasn't sung for years. Her tones with their bluesy style, unmistakeable from the first syllable, reach sublime heights here. After a slightly electro detour with Sun, mixed by Zdar from Cassius, she doesn't give us too many surprises here in terms of the pretty classical form of her songs, but the surprise comes in the sheer quality of the tracks. One of her biggest fans, Lana Del Rey, makes an appearance on the album on the track Woman maintaining the sober feel to this beautiful and honest record. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz  
£12.49

Alternative & Indie - Released January 23, 2006 | Matador

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The Greatest (no, it's not a hits collection) makes it clear just how much Chan Marshall grows with each album she releases. Three years on from You Are Free, she sounds reinvented yet again: Marshall returned to Memphis, TN -- where she recorded What Would the Community Think nearly a decade earlier -- to make an homage to the Southern soul and pop she listened to as a young girl. Working with great Memphis soul musicians such as Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Leroy "Flick" Hodges, and Dave Smith, she crafted an album that is even more focused and accessible than You Are Free was, and pushes her even closer toward straightforward singer/songwriter territory. The title track is a subtle but powerful statement of purpose: with its lush, "Moon River" strings and lyrics about a young boy who wanted to become a boxer, the song is as moving as her earlier work but also a big step away from the angst-ridden diary-rock that her music is sometimes categorized as. Likewise, on the gospel-tinged "Living Proof" and the charming "Could We," Marshall is sexy, strong, and playful, and far from the stereotype of her as a frail, howling waif. But the truth is, sweet Southern songs like these have been in her repertoire since What Would the Community Think's "They Tell Me" and "Taking People" (You Are Free's "Good Woman" and "Half of You" are also touchstones for this album); The Greatest is just a more polished, palatable version of this side of her music. This is the most listenable Cat Power album Marshall has made, and one that could easily win her lots of new fans. It's also far from a sell-out -- The Greatest sounds like the album Marshall wanted to make, without any specific (or larger) audience in mind. And yet, the very things about The Greatest that make it appealing to a larger audience also make it less singular and sublime than, say, Moon Pix or You Are Free. The productions and arrangements on songs like "Lived in Bars" and "Empty Shell" are so immaculate and intricate that they threaten to overwhelm Marshall's gorgeous voice. And, occasionally, the album's warm, soulful, laid-back vibe goes from mellow to sleepy, particularly on "Willie" and "The Moon." Two of The Greatest's best songs show that she doesn't need to be edgy and tortured or gussied up with elaborate productions to sound amazing: "Where Is My Love" reaffirms that all Marshall needs is a piano and that voice to make absolutely spellbinding music. On the other hand, "Love & Communication"'s modern, complicated take on love gains a quiet intensity with judiciously used strings and keyboards. For what it is, The Greatest is exceedingly well done, and people who have never heard of Cat Power before could very well love this album immediately. However, it might take a little more work for those who have loved her music from the beginning. ~ Heather Phares
£12.49

Alternative & Indie - Released February 17, 2003 | Matador

You Are Free arrives nearly five years from her last album of original material, and everything, yet nothing, has changed about Chan Marshall's music. The album's title is as much a statement as it is a challenge, a command to free one's self from the hurt and pain of the past, or to at least find a way of making peace with it. Marshall seems to do both on You Are Free, a collection of songs about finding freedom and peace wherever she can. Initially, the album seems more diffuse than Moon Pix, as it spans tense rockers, blues, folk, and singer/songwritery piano ballads, but it gradually reveals itself as Marshall's most mature and thematically focused work yet. You Are Free opens with a stunning trio of songs that encompass most of the moods and sounds she explores later in the album. On "I Don't Blame You," the first of You Are Free's many spare, piano-driven moments, Marshall paints a portrait of a tormented musician, her voice so full of sympathy that she may well be singing a reconciliation to a previous incarnation of herself. The brisk, buzzing intensity of "Free," however, offers liberation in the form of rock & roll's immediate, poetic nonsense: "Don't be in love with the autograph/Just be in love when you love that song all night long." You Are Free's first two songs address musicians and making music directly; Marshall is a famously willful, volatile artist, and the increasing gaps between her albums (not to mention her unpredictable live performances) suggest that being a musician isn't the easiest thing for her to do, even if it's a necessary one. She addresses the struggle to do the right, but difficult, thing on "Good Woman," a near-spiritual breakup song where, backed by a children's choir and fiddles, Marshall explains that she needs to be a good woman with -- or more likely, without -- her bad man. Aside from being a lovely song, it's also a departure; earlier in her career the song might have just focused on the conflict instead of Marshall's gently strong resolution to it. This gentle but resolute strength runs through most of You Are Free's best moments, such as "He War" and especially "Names," a terrifyingly matter-of-fact recollection of child abuse and lost friends that says more in its resigned sorrow than a histrionic tirade would. As the album progresses, it moves toward the spare, affecting ballads that give her later work a strange timelessness; listening to You Are Free gives the impression of stripping away layers to get to the essence of Marshall's music. In some ways, the quiet last half of this album is more demanding than the angsty noise of Dear Sir or Myra Lee, but hearing her find continually creative interpretations of minor keys, plaintive pianos, and folky guitars is well worth the attention it takes, whether it's the dead-of-night eroticism of her cover of Michael Hurley's "Werewolf," the pretty yet eerie longing of "Fool," or the prairie romance of "Half of You." Every Cat Power album takes at least a few listens to fully reveal itself; You Are Free may take awhile longer than expected to unfold, but once it does, its excellence is undeniable. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 1998 | Matador

Cat Power's 1998 album Moon Pix continues Chan Marshall's transformation from an indie rock Cassandra into a reflective, accomplished singer/songwriter. Where her previous works were an urgent, aching mix of punk, folk, and blues, Moon Pix is truly soul(ful) music: warm, reflective, complex, and cohesive. For this album, Marshall moved the recording sessions for the album to Australia, and switched her rhythm section to the Dirty Three's Mick Turner and Jim White; the lineup changes add new depth and light to her compelling, intricate guitar work and gently insistent vocals. From the backwards drum loop on "American Flag" (borrowed from the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere") to the fluttering, smoky flutes on "He Turns Down" to the double-tracked vocals and crashing thunderstorms of "Say," Moon Pix's expressive arrangements mirror the songs' fine emotional shadings. Marshall is sunny on the quietly hopeful "You May Know Him," hypnotic and seductive on "Cross Bones Style," and poignant on "Colors & the Kids," where she sings, "It's so hard to go into the city/Because you want to say hi, hello, I love you to everybody." As natural and refined as a pearl, Moon Pix is a collection of fragile yet strong songs that reveal Marshall's unique, personal songwriting talents in their full glory. ~ Heather Phares
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Folk - Released January 21, 2008 | Matador

Eight years is a long time in almost any artist's career, but in Cat Power's case, it's an even more sizable gulf, as Chan Marshall's collections of other people's songs reflect. Released in 2000, The Covers Record found her becoming an ever more nuanced performer, tempering the rawness and intensity of her earlier albums with a lighter approach. Arriving in 2008, Jukebox reaffirms what a polished artist she's become, especially since her Memphis soul homage The Greatest. But where The Greatest sometimes bordered on slick, Jukebox's blend of country, soul, blues, and jazz feels lived-in and natural. Marshall recorded this set with her touring act, the Dirty Delta Blues Band, featuring some of indie rock's finest players, including her longtime drummer, the Dirty Three's Jim White -- who gives even the quietest moments vitality -- as well as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Judah Bauer and Chavez's Matt Sweeney, so it's not surprising that the album often plays like an especially well-recorded concert. However, some of the session legends she worked with on The Greatest make guest appearances, including Teenie Hodges and Spooner Oldham. Oldham's song for Janis Joplin, "A Woman Left Lonely," appears here, and the original's sophisticated yet earthy sound is one of the album's biggest influences. As on The Covers Record, Marshall makes bold choices. She citifies Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" (switched to [RoviLink="MC"]"Ramblin' [Wo]Man"[/RoviLink] here), turning it slinky and smoky with spacious drums and rippling Rhodes; despite the very different surroundings, the song's desperate loneliness remains. Joni Mitchell's icily beautiful "Blue" gets a thaw and a late-night feel that are completely different but just as compelling. Not all of Jukebox's transformations are this successful: Marshall's penchant for turning formerly brash songs brooding (like The Covers Record's "Satisfaction") sounds too predictable on Frank Sinatra's "New York." And, while the choice to change James Brown's "I Lost Someone" from searing and pleading to languid was brave, the results fall flat. One of the most drastic remakes is Marshall's own Moon Pix track "Metal Heart," which adds more drama and dynamics to one of her prettiest melodies. While the way this version swings from aching verses to cathartic choruses works, the subtlety and simplicity of the original are missed. Indeed, many of Jukebox's best moments are the simplest. Marshall's reworking of the Highwaymen's 1990 hit "Silver Stallion" frees the song from its dated production, replacing it with acoustic guitar and pedal steel that impart a timeless, restless beauty. She pays Bob Dylan homage with a gritty, defiant, yet reverent take on "I Believe in You" from his 1978 Christian album Slow Train Coming and "Song to Bobby," Jukebox's lone new track, dedicated to and inspired by Dylan so thoroughly that she borrows his trademark cadences without sounding like an impersonation. Uneven as it may be, Jukebox is still a worthwhile portrait of Chan Marshall's artistry. ~ Heather Phares
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Sun

Alternative & Indie - Released September 3, 2012 | Matador

Six years between albums would be a lifetime for many artists, but Cat Power's Chan Marshall managed to pack a couple of lifetimes' worth of experiences between The Greatest and Sun. A happy relationship, health issues, and writer's block were among the many things that kept her away from music during that time, and with a life that full, it's no wonder that this album, Marshall's ninth set of original songs, is so different than the one that came before it. Instead of working with veteran musicians, she wrote, recorded, and produced Sun on her own, added electronic instruments to her repertoire, and enlisted Cassius' Philippe Zdar to help with the mixing duties (which he did with a minimum of interference). While it's miles away from The Greatest's retro-soul, Sun isn't Cat Power-goes-electro, either; anyone fearing relentless house beats or an onslaught of cheesy synths should have their fears calmed by the beautiful opening track "Cherokee," where a few tasteful keyboards rev up the yearning chorus, and skittering beats fit right in with the guitar and piano. The song also introduces Sun's remarkably spare production aesthetic, which sounds all the more striking coming after The Greatest's lushness; even if this album is more consciously modern-sounding than its predecessor, it's also a lot less slick. Actually, the willingness and ability to mix, bend, and blend old and new sounds that Marshall shows here isn't such a far cry from the more sonically adventurous moments on Moon Pix and especially You Are Free; she's just expanding on that instinct and adding a more hopeful songwriting bent. What really matters, and what really shines on Sun, is Marshall's voice, which sounds so unabashedly human and lived-in that not even the Auto-Tune on songs such as "3,6,9" can tweak the grit out of it. These songs give Marshall some of the widest-ranging backdrops she's ever had for that voice, whether it's more overtly electronic tracks such as the hypnotic title cut and the ominous "Silent Machine," which suddenly glitches up like ripping the skin off an android, or the more familiar but still compelling territory of "Human Being"'s rolling blues or the delicate piano ballad "Manhattan," which sparkles like freshly fallen snow. Sun also boasts some of her happiest-sounding songs, in particular "Nothin' But Time," an 11-minute epic dedicated to her ex-boyfriend Giovanni Ribisi's teen daughter, to whom Marshall sings "You got nothin' but time/And it ain't got nothin' on you." It seems like the perfect way to end the album, until the actual closing track "Peace and Love," which is the closest Marshall has gotten to hip-hop, brings things to an end with unexpected but welcome humor. Sun lives up to its name, but its album cover is more revealing: like the rainbow crossing Marshall's face, these songs are the meeting point between a stormy past and optimism for the future. ~ Heather Phares
£12.49

Alternative & Indie - Released March 21, 2000 | Matador

On the The Covers Record, Chan Marshall continues her evolution into a remarkably expressive interpreter of songs; her earlier covers of Pavement's "We Dance" and Smog's "Bathysphere" are among her most distinctive performances. This collection includes songs originally by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, Moby Grape, Michael Hurley, and Anonymous. Marshall's sparest album yet, The Covers Record uses guitar and piano as the only foils for her malleable, emotional voice. These tools are more than enough to turn the Stones' anthem "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" into a bluesy, slinky version emphasizing the song's tension and frustration as much as its jaded sexiness, and "Kingston Town" from a reggae standard into a hymnal reflection. Marshall's gentle version of Hurley's "Sweedeedee" and plaintive reading of the Velvets' "I Found a Reason" recall the quietest, most spiritual moments from Moon Pix. This culminates on the cover of her own "In This Hole" from What Would the Community Think; one of the most drastic revisions, its soft pianos and serene vocals replace the original's turbulent anguish, reflecting her changing musical path. Marshall explores many emotional directions, from her yearning version of Moby Grape's "Naked If I Want To" to her brooding sensuality on "Wild Is the Wind," to her down-home optimism on Bob Dylan's "Paths of Victory." "Salty Dog"'s lilting melody and humorous lyrics bring out Marshall's Georgia twang, while her version of Smog's "Red Apples" shows off her voice's sensual lows and keening highs. The joyous cover of "Sea of Love" (originally by Phil Phillips) brings this accomplished, heartfelt Covers Record to a very happy end. ~ Heather Phares
£12.49

Folk - Released September 12, 2006 | Matador

The Greatest (no, it's not a hits collection) makes it clear just how much Chan Marshall grows with each album she releases. Three years on from You Are Free, she sounds reinvented yet again: Marshall returned to Memphis, TN -- where she recorded What Would the Community Think nearly a decade earlier -- to make an homage to the Southern soul and pop she listened to as a young girl. Working with great Memphis soul musicians such as Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Leroy "Flick" Hodges, and Dave Smith, she crafted an album that is even more focused and accessible than You Are Free was, and pushes her even closer toward straightforward singer/songwriter territory. The title track is a subtle but powerful statement of purpose: with its lush, "Moon River" strings and lyrics about a young boy who wanted to become a boxer, the song is as moving as her earlier work but also a big step away from the angst-ridden diary-rock that her music is sometimes categorized as. Likewise, on the gospel-tinged "Living Proof" and the charming "Could We," Marshall is sexy, strong, and playful, and far from the stereotype of her as a frail, howling waif. But the truth is, sweet Southern songs like these have been in her repertoire since What Would the Community Think's "They Tell Me" and "Taking People" (You Are Free's "Good Woman" and "Half of You" are also touchstones for this album); The Greatest is just a more polished, palatable version of this side of her music. This is the most listenable Cat Power album Marshall has made, and one that could easily win her lots of new fans. It's also far from a sell-out -- The Greatest sounds like the album Marshall wanted to make, without any specific (or larger) audience in mind. And yet, the very things about The Greatest that make it appealing to a larger audience also make it less singular and sublime than, say, Moon Pix or You Are Free. The productions and arrangements on songs like "Lived in Bars" and "Empty Shell" are so immaculate and intricate that they threaten to overwhelm Marshall's gorgeous voice. And, occasionally, the album's warm, soulful, laid-back vibe goes from mellow to sleepy, particularly on "Willie" and "The Moon." Two of The Greatest's best songs show that she doesn't need to be edgy and tortured or gussied up with elaborate productions to sound amazing: "Where Is My Love" reaffirms that all Marshall needs is a piano and that voice to make absolutely spellbinding music. On the other hand, "Love & Communication"'s modern, complicated take on love gains a quiet intensity with judiciously used strings and keyboards. For what it is, The Greatest is exceedingly well done, and people who have never heard of Cat Power before could very well love this album immediately. However, it might take a little more work for those who have loved her music from the beginning. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 19, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 10, 1996 | Matador

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 13, 1996 | Smells Like Records

The 1996 album Myra Lee presents a more diverse and fully developed version of Cat Power's music, ranging from the winding, acoustic menace of "Enough" to the sinewy rock of "We All Die." Introspective epics like "Great Expectations," "Faces," and "Wealthy Man" use churning tempos and spiraling guitars to convey Chan Marshall's melancholy musical vision, but gentler songs like the trembling cover of Hank Williams' "Still in Love" and originals like "Top Expert" and "Ice Water" are parts of the picture as well, adding warmth and roundness to the album. As always, Marshall's yearning voice lends extra emotion to her songs, whether it's her clear, soaring vocals on the new version of "Rockets" or her distant, half-heard moans on the final track, "Not What You Want," which sounds genuine to the point of eavesdropping. This raw, overheard sound infuses Myra Lee with a sonic honesty that matches the album's heartfelt songwriting. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 9, 2008 | Matador

Cat Power's label, Matador Records, is a leading figure in the early 2000s return to vinyl, releasing many of their higher profile new releases in what had not long before been considered a moribund format. DARK END OF THE STREET goes a step further in the vinyl renaissance: this six-song EP is available only as a handsomely packaged pair of 10-inch EPs in a lavish gatefold sleeve, with no CD or digital download release. The six songs were recorded during the sessions for Cat Power's 2008 album, JUKEBOX; as on that album, all six of these songs are carefully chosen covers given a Memphis soul-tinged makeover. Highlights include a dramatic recasting of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" that replaces the seething anger of the original with a dismissive sneer, and compelling versions of James Carr's title track and Aretha Franklin's "It Ain't Fair."
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 14, 2014 | Matador

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 6, 2005 | Matador

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 3, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 21, 2008 | Matador

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Pop/Rock - Released June 19, 2012 | Matador

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Cat Power in the magazine
  • Less is more
    Less is more A guitar held up by the neck, a child's head pressed against the holder's body. Cat Power reveals a lot with the cover of her tenth album.