Wednesday, January 27, 2010

50. You Are Free – Cat Power (2003)

While I agree that Chan Marshall has a particular allure, I wouldn’t confuse that with a ton of textbook talent. Her instrumentation is pretty basic, her vocals self-taught and many of her lyrics personal enough to skim interpretation. And while I do think the press has hyped her beyond her capabilities, Chan Marshall is in good company there. So many idols from our parents’ generation were alluring not because they were perfectly trained musicians, but because they (Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, and Marshall’s hero, Dylan) carried a particular allure.

Before I get a tirade of emails, let me make clear that I’m not placing Cat Power in the same talent-pool as Young, Dylan or their ilk. Yet like those aforementioned artists and many since (Springsteen, Petty, etc.), Marshall has an every-person, down-to-earth quality that renders her emotions and lyrics easily shared among her fan-base. You Are Free is that album that perfectly merged Cat Power’s early cult following with newer audiences attracted by her increasingly extroverted work. Featuring Marshall at her most eclectic and commanding, You Are Free should be enough to get a petition going in order to save Cat Power from the Memphis soul that diluted her strengths on The Greatest and Jukebox.

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