WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2008|
Chan Marshall, better know to most by her alias Cat Power, is no stranger to the art of the cover song. Back in 2000 she released the aptly titled The Covers Record and most recently was a contributor to the I’m Not There soundtrack. So it’s not much of a stretch that for the follow up to 2005’s critically acclaimed album The Greatest Ms. Marshall once goes crate digging to offer up the eclectic “mix CD” Jukebox.
Backed by her touring band the fantastic Dirty Delta Blues Band, Chan tackles an impressive roster of artists all delivered in her sultry, Southern soul-tinged style. Unless you have a fully loaded 160 GB iPod though there is a good chance you won’t be familiar with a lot of the material here (I had to do plenty of research to check out some of the original tracks), but this isn’t a bad thing. While Jukebox is meant to be a tribute to her favorite vocalists, these songs have all been broken down and reinterpreted, with Chan Marshall putting her own indelible stamp on each (even tackling her own song “Metal Heart” - a track that first appeared on Moon Pix).
The twelve moody tracks shuffle along, evoking the feeling that this could be the soundtrack playing while lazily drinking at your favorite dank watering hole on a Sunday afternoon. The album opens with a sexy take on Frank Sinatra’s signature song “New York” and Hank Williams “Ramblin’ (Wo)man” – with Chan hauntingly, crooning her way through both. The album is at its best though when it ramps up into full soul revival; the up-tempo “Aretha, Sing One For Me” has everyone firing on all cylinders with swirling B3 organ and lilting electric piano.
Chan returns to the Bob Dylan songbook, having previously raided it for The Covers Record. This time she snatches up “I Believe In You” - a slightly obscure track from Zimmy’s Christian rock phase – turning it from a gospel-y lament into fiery love song. The lone original tune on the album follows, “Song To Bobby” - the ultimate fan boy (or in this case girl) love letter to Mr. Dylan with Ms. Marshall proclaiming, “Backstage pass in my hand/Giving you my heart was my plan I wish I could tell you”.
Much the way EPs serve to satiate fans between albums, you can view this album as the same. It’s by no means essential, but should tide you over till the next album of original material. - Jeffrey Greenblatt