Cat Power plays for herself on ‘Jukebox’

Brenna McNamara

COURTESY Matador Records

Credit: DKS Editors

Cat Power’s Jukebox seems like an album done for herself rather than for her fans.

The charm of the album lies in that fact.

This is because any true fan of Cat Power appreciates the Chan Marshall behind the naked and soulful music. Any true fan realizes and exalts the turbulence in her life, the turbulence that seeps through the cracks of her unpolished albums and erratic live shows.

Because Jukebox is a cover album, save for two tracks (one that is a cover of her own “Metal Heart” from Moon Pix), The soulful, southern indie-chic is revealed through her moody revamps of various songs ranging from James Brown to Joni Mitchell, The Highwaymen to Billie Holiday.

Within 30 seconds, the album’s smoky blues and sexual vibe flow, as Marshall vamps out Frank Sinatra’s unrecognizable “New York” to the moaning guitar and heavy drums of her band The Dirty Delta Blues Band. Ironically, she has divulged in interviews that she couldn’t concentrate while living in New York, revealing she felt like a nervous wreck, freaking out amongst all the people. This is just one case of Cat Power revisiting personal dark moments throughout Jukebox. For a perfectionist who has had vast problems accepting herself and exhibiting her music, perhaps personalizing her favorites is a cleansing, comforting way to reveal herself.

Cat Power stays relatively close to the original in one of the catchiest songs, George Jackson’s “Aretha, Sing One for Me.” She could have turned this song into a moaning vamp but instead kept its upbeat soul alive. James Brown’s “Lost Someone” is relatively respectful of the original sound, as well, aside from the inability to recreate Brown’s voice.

Capturing the epitome of the album’s stripped down extreme is “Lord Help the Poor and Needy.” The original song, by Jessie Mae Hemphill, eerier than Cat Power’s do up, comprises solely of her voice and a tambourine. Cat Power replaces the tambourine for a conservative electric guitar, and a voice equally as poignant.

Cat Power decently covers Bob Dylan’s “I Believe in You.” Well-known as a huge fan of Dylan, having performed covers at numerous shows, it is no surprise that Cat Power chose to cover him yet again. The interesting part is the fact that she chose his song about Dylan’s conversion to Christianity.

Her devotion to Bob Dylan carries on to the next track, “Song to Bobby,” done in her best Bob impression. The song depicts her incredible infatuation personally and musically, and their first meeting. Captivating because of its funny simplicity, Cat Power’s only new original isn’t anything musically awesome, but enjoyable.

The girl once known for quitting song performances halfway through because of low self-esteem, has disappeared. Now revealed is a confident girl who has gone full circle and has a new swagger to show.

Contact all reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected].