February 9, 2006

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Cat Power, The Greatest
Matador, 2006

The one-woman band Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, has graced glossy pages of alternative music magazines for the past few years.

Although always given praise by the sonic elite, Cat Power’s music has always been soul-crushingly slow, until now. The shiny, pink cover art that enigmatically displays a pair of gold boxing gloves is evidence enough that Cat Power has turned a new leaf. Whereas her previous effort, You Are Free, would make you freely want to jump out a window, The Greatest is a great honky-tonk soundtrack for a night of binge drinking in a sullen bar, after a breakup. Her smoky vocals are almost cinematic, as if she’s embodied the soul of a contempory, Western songstress.

“Could We” is a bouncy little number that ranges somewhere between Loretta Lynn and an early ’70s rock song. “Where Is My Love” is the heart-wrenching centerpiece, conveniently placed smack in the middle of the record, just as anyone would place it on a mix tape. The rest is a bewitching mix of country and jazz.

For Chan Marshall, this album is upbeat and probably the most upbeat you’ll ever hear her. The Greatest is sure to win over many new fans, labeling it the breakup/rainy day album of the year in progress. B+

— Dan Brian