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Cat Power - Covers (Album Review)

Monday, 17 January 2022 Written by Rebecca Llewellyn

Cat Power possesses a rare talent: the ability to turn the everyday and ordinary into something extraordinary. It’s something that has been captured by her own original works, through her keen songwriting hand, but it’s particularly apparent in her growing collection of cover records.

Embracing a variety of genres and music styles, on ‘Covers’ Marshall offers a unique slant on everyone from Frank Ocean to Iggy Pop. While covers are not new territory for Cat Power, following 2000’s ‘The Covers Record’ and 2008’s ‘Jukebox’, her 2022 adaptations quake with quality, so close yet so far from the originals. 

Ranging from experimental to beautifully simplistic, ‘Covers’ surprises both musically and in terms of song selection, with well-known classics such as Nico’s These Days alongside quirky gems such as Pa Pa Power from Ryan’s Gosling's band Dead Man’s Bones.

‘Covers’ suggests that these tracks have been chosen not for their selling capability (as is the case with so many cover albums), but rather from a place of sincere admiration.

It is a delight to behold all angles of Cat Power’s vocal and arrangement capabilities, as she breathes new life into the originals. Adopting a softer country sound on Kitty Wells’ It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, Marshall pairs the purr of smooth vocals to a subtle jazz club bass. 

As the track concludes, she hurtles forward into a stark, steely cover of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ I Had a Dream Joe. Removing the fast-paced, frantic energy that tears through Cave’s rendition, and opting instead to perform the track bare, vulnerable and exposed, Marshall shines a light on lyrics alone. 

Fascinatingly, it is Cat Power’s bold approach that allows her covers to take on such different meanings. Her vocals ache and tear at the seams of what existed before, creating divisive pieces that challenge existing opinions. Her vision allows her to grasp renowned songs by their bones and flesh them in a fashion entirely her own. 

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