Sure, Chan Marshall went all the way to Memphis to record a Cat Power album with the Hi Rhythm Section only to have all the soulful bits mixed out in post-production, but any knucklehead could’ve done that. It takes a special artiste to follow that up with an album recorded in New York, Dallas and Miami with an entirely different cast of musicians to sound like it was recorded in Memphis by the Hi Rhythm crew. And that’s only the beginning of the entertainment on the Jukebox deluxe covers album.
Sadly, the 12-song recording, which pairs Marshall with Dirty Delta Blues (Judah Bauer, Gregg Foreman, Jim White and Erik Paparazzi) doesn’t include her inspired version of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy – a little too close to home, perhaps – but you do get to hear her (melo)dramatic revisions of Frank Sinatra’s New York, Hank Williams’s Ramblin’ (Wo)man, James Brown’s Lost Someone, Janis Joplin’s A Woman Left Lonely and Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain.
Naturally, the interpretations go beyond mere homage as Marshall uses her mysterious Cat Power skills to channel the spirits of the singers who inspired her, with mixed results. Your appreciation of Jukebox will vary inversely with the premium you place on an interpreters’ respect for the composer’s lyrics.
Cat Power hits the Kool Haus February 9.