This is my third record review this week, with at least two more to come, maybe a third if I like it. I am trying to only bring things I have liked to the forefront on this blog, because I tend to think it is too easy to be negative, and lets face it there is already a lot of it out in the world these days.
I liked this record enough to listen to it three times through the first night I had it. Cat Power has been around for along time now, and in the beginning she wasn't my cup of tea. In her early days Chan Marshall, which is her name, was more of an act to me: Cat Power. On "The Greatest" I heard more of herself, and less artistic mumble, of which she has been critiqued in the past.
The record starts with the tune for which the album is titled and I was a bit taken aback when the strings joined the piano and guitar. The tune they were playing sounded an awful lot like "Moon River" and although I couldn't shake that thought as the song wore on, I knew I was in for a well done record. She sings: "Lower me down, to the culprit south. Make 'em wash a space in town for the lead and dregs of my my bed." I was pretty pleased at track one, but as the disc played on the juxtaposition from one track to the next, like the slow tempo of "The Greatest" to the more upbeat "Living Proof" seamed to present her story in a complex but masterful set of layers.
It is fitting for Marshall to reference the 'Culprit South' in the first few stanzas of the record because there are hints of southern flare all throughout the record. The kind you would expect from a performer who took the name for her musical persona from a truckers cap that read Cat Diesel Power. I know the harmonica, fiddle, and steel guitar scare most young, indie, or hip kids to the point where they have to pull out all their Yo La Tengo seven inches just to feel clean again, but Cat Power pulls it off so very well.
Like Jenny Lewis, earlier this year on her record "Rabbit Fur Coat" Cat Power melds different styles together to bring us a refreshing musical trip that will both entertain and inspire. The stand out track here is Willie in my opinion and while it is driven by piano there is a smoldering sax line that is accented by stripped down rhythm section to bring the full package to the table. Cat power gets a full 'that's good work out of you' from me today.I am sorry to say Cat Power had to cancel her current tour due to medical reasons, just the other day. I hope she is ok, and will be back out again soon, because I would love to see her. More to come!