Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Jan. 25, 2008
Cat PowerJukebox (Matador)
Chan Marshall possesses one of music's most evocative voices even when she and her musical arrangements aren't always up to the material at hand. Jukebox follows the soulful turn of 2006's The Greatest, cueing up an uneven sequel to the hushed acoustics of 2000's The Covers Record. A slow funk opening courtesy of the Delta Blues Band digs its heel into "New York," Sinatra's bravado eviscerated by Marshall's smoky wanderlust. "Ramblin' (Wo)man" sluices Hank Williams with a sultry, feminine surge, while Bob Dylan's "I Believe in You" receives an electric jolt. Strangely enough, Marshall infuses the songs with such personal ache that their emotional rawness can overpower; "Woman Left Lonely" quells Janis Joplin's ferocity with resignation, and Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain" is pure aural depression. Original "Song to Bobby" missteps with narcissism far removed from Dylan's "Song to Woody," and traditional "Lord, Help the Poor & Needy" sags without a glint of conviction, but Marshall recovers with George Jackson's "Aretha, Sing One for Me" and unrestrained reworking of her own "Metal Heart."