Cat Power: Jukebox

By Rebecca Barry Hill

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Herald rating: * * * *

Label: Matador
Verdict: Indie-rock babe strips things back for the love of Dylan, Sinatra, Holiday

Cat Power's second covers album is a portrait of how good music used to be. Her smoky voice, combined with interesting reconfigurations of great songs will please music-lovers of all generations.

But don't mistake her tributes as a creative dry spell. Marshall inhabits each song as though she penned them herself, and yet they all sound perfectly loose, laidback and at times, lazy, as though she's kicking back, barefoot, on the porch. She also covers her own song Metal Heart, and reveals her love for Bob Dylan on her new song, Song to Bobby.

Her backing band Dirty Delta Blues (among others, drummer Jim White of the Dirty Three and guitarist Judah Bauer of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) help Marshall reshape the songs with minimal fuss. As familiar as many of them are, the end result is very much a Cat Power record.

The most surprising cover is Sinatra's New York, where she does away with the vampy big band approach in favour of an understated, structurally new song; she turns Hank Williams' country classic Ramblin' (Wo)man into a smoky jazz number, and her vocals truly shine on her stripped down version of the Highwaymen's Silver Stallion, just Marshall and her guitar.

This cat purrs.

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