Cat Power: Covers (Domino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 27th, 2024  

Cat Power



Jan 13, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue Bookmark and Share

There are always long gaps between Cat Power records. Chan Marshall’s cozy yet faintly unnerving style—grounded by her guitar and distinctive vocal delivery—is not something that can be rushed. Her third covers album unfurls with an idling reflectiveness, as though she is sat on her living room floor browsing through her record collection for the perfect song to revise.

Covers follows 2018’s Wanderer, an album that was outright rejected by long-term label Matador and led her to find a new home with Domino, safe in the company of Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective, and Julia Holter. This is Marshall taking some time to enjoy herself after the unpleasantness surrounding her last record: “I started pulling out lyrics from ‘Bad Religion’ and singing those instead of getting super depressed. Performing covers is a very enjoyable way to do something that feels natural to me,” she says in a press statement, referring to the album’s opening track, a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion.”

Marshall takes songs by Iggy Pop, The Replacements, Lana Del Rey (a previous collaborator) and arranges them into her intimate, sparse style. While it doesn’t feature her own lyrics, the record still ambles through archetypal Cat Power moods—insouciance, worry, bliss—steering clear of the pulsating synths à la “Manhattan” and sticking with the stripped-back worry-pop of Wanderer. Her guitar leads the way, socializing with a gentle vibrating organ on The Pogues’ “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” and shimmery lap steel and stand-up bass on Kitty Welles’ 1952 proto-feminist country hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”

Cat Power has one of the most recognizable and mesmerizing voices in alternative music; it glows and glides with melancholic seclusion, best evidenced on “These Days.” Nico’s rendition is beautiful in spite of—or perhaps because of—its imperfection. But here, Jackson Browne’s composition is given the vocal performance it deserves, supported only by crisp, clear Danelectro plucks. The result is the album’s most affecting entry. The WWII-era jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You”—previously covered by Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Norah Jones—passes similarly, the vocals a low-pitched lilt atop twinkling piano counter-melodies and fingerpicked chords.

It may be another four years before any new Cat Power material is released, but with 11 albums to idly browse through in the intervening years, the time will undoubtedly fly by. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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