Cat Power - Jukebox

Re-interpreting and creating re-workings that seem to unearth forgotten meanings, is an art-form in itself.


‘Jukebox’, Chan Marshall a.k.a Cat Power’s second covers offering since 2000’s ‘The Covers Record’, could be construed as an example of someone losing their artistic way by having to resort to this disputed form of music - again.

‘Jukebox’ is exactly what it says: an eclectic mixture, featuring songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra (‘New York’); James Brown (‘Lost Someone’); Billie Holiday (‘Don’t Explain’) and Janis Joplin (‘Woman Left Lonely’).

Marshall’s rendition of ‘New York’, the record’s opener, is minimalist, but rather daring. Gone are the Sinatra traits of brashness and celebration, replaced by a heart-aching reality; of someone pulled to ‘the city that never sleeps’ out of necessity and for one final, desperate shot at life. The line ‘it’s up to you, New York, New York’ has never taken on such a poignant, desperate air.

‘Don’t Explain’, with its weeping guitar and haunting, sparse piano, allows Marshall’s minimalist style to reach into the song’s core. Whether she does this better than Holiday is irrelevant, for how can she when the original was sung by that most tragic of musical figures? Marshall’s equivalent is just as powerful, and lets the audience (re)discover a tale of heartache and loneliness caused by love - or the lack of.

But while ‘Jukebox’ covers songs by artists, it also covers traits of artists, too. ‘Song for Bobby’, which follows her performance of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Believe in You’, is a different sort of cover. The only original song on the album, Marshall’s voice mirrors the highs and lows Dylan’s singing is so famous for, while the music is reminiscent of anything from ‘Blood On The Tracks’.

‘Jukebox’ is not the product of someone artistically troubled. On the contrary, Marshall shows that choosing and covering songs in your own, almost inimitable style; re-interpreting them, and creating re-workings that seem to unearth forgotten meanings, is an art-form in itself.

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