[image-4]Published February 07, 2008.
Cat Power
Jukebox
(Matador)
While listening to Jukebox, it’s hard to avoid comparing it to 2000’s The Covers Record. While the obvious is obvious---both showcase Chan Marshall’s unique interpretive abilities via a series of covers from artists that inspire her---the differences are as pronounced as those between Moonpix and The Greatest. Jukebox (as with her last trio of albums) reveals a vocal strength and confidence that has buried the shy, awkward performer. Gone too are the stark solo piano and solo guitar arrangements that sometimes ended prematurely. Instead we have the more soulful, southern Memphis-blues textures that informed The Greatest, making that album a surprising yet stunning experience. This newfound love of soulful interpretation is all over Jukebox, perhaps no more so than on the traditional “Lord, Help The Poor & Needy.” So too with James Brown’s “Lost Someone” and Billie Holliday’s “Don’t Explain”---both of which tear at the heart as Chan reveals subtleties in her voice not previously evident. Her own “Song to Bobby” is more Dylanesque than Dylan’s own “I Believe in You.” Yet it is perhaps with Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” and “New York” (the old Sinatra/Minnelli staple) she exercises the most freedom, by stripping the melody down to bare essentials, where the lyrics remain as the only recognizable element of the original.
Dave Hayden
categories: Coast pick

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