It’s been a week since my last post and I apologize to the many (by many I mean 3) people who follow my blog. School’s just been very busy and with graduation only a 3 or 4 months away, my mind has been else where.

With that out the way, I’ve decided to save my next rant for another day and instead take a look at another of my favorite albums/artist. Her name is Cat Power.

Cat Power is the alias of Chan Marshall, a Southern-bred singer/songwriter whose father, Charlie, was an itinerant pianist. After dropping out of high school, Marshall found herself in New York; performing under the name Cat Power, she was booked as the opening act for Liz Phair, where she met Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Two Dollar Guitar’s Tim Foljahn, who agreed to become her backing band. Following the release of 1995’s Dear Sir and 1996’s Myra Lee — both recorded on the same day — Cat Power signed to Matador for 1996’s What Would the Community Think?, which won acclaim for Marshall’s unsettling, emotional songs and cathartic vocals.

Before I say anything about WWTCT, I need to talk about Cat Power’s voice. She has a soft breathy vocals that’s like slowly dipping into a warm bath after a long and stress filled day. Her voice is an instrument it’s self and can carry even the most cryptic of lyrics.

The first track the album, In This Hole, is a very somber way to open up the album. She is accompanied only by her electric guitar, slowly strumming away. The soft whispers of xylophone playing seeming at random but somehow on time makes this a favorite of mine. Along the with the pained and hunting lyrics of course. The next  track isn’t quite as somber or slow but still contains haunting lyrics. Good Clean Fun, about a philandering lover, contains the same 2 chord guitar strings as In This Hole but is played to a more confident affect here. The drums lazily beating against Cat’s simple guitar strings gives it a very cool affect.

The album’s title track starts off with very rhythmic piano playing into the distance until we hear one sharp guitar chord. The guitar counties to play while the piano twinkles in the back ground and we get some feedback from the bass. These elements at first seem to be playing as separate bodies but come together as soon as Power begins to softly whisper, “My God, what would the community think?” Despite this song containing very few lyric, it’s still personal in so many ways. Next is the happier (production wise only) Nude as the News. A wise choice to be the first single off the album, as it contains a very catchy hook. All the instruments, the drums and guitar, are all play against a very digestible backdrop. While it contain Cat’s signature minimalist production, it isn’t like anything else off the album. Not that it’s bad, it’s actually good, as it breaks up any monotony the album may have.

They Tell Me is a very folksy, country inspired track that is a great listen. The writing along with Cat’s seasoned southern accent highlight how versatile she is as in artist. The track contains only her guitar slowly playing  along and the track seems to be given this effect to make it sound fuzzy. This actually helps the track feel that much more authentic.

The next two track are so vastly different that you could swear they were from two different artist. The first being Talking People, is the happiest of all the song on WTTCT. Cat Power’s main message being, just be happy with who you, are matches the very simplistically happy guitar and southern style bass brings this to a greater effect. The Fate of the Human Carbine is the first of numerous future Cat Power covers. Originally performed by Peter Jefferies, Cat’s cover brings the hunting emotion of his original track, while maintaing her own original style. The guitar sinisterly strumming along plays well with Cat Power’s breathy voice. King rides by sounds like if In this Hole and Taking People joined together.  It contains the very somber nature of In This Hole, with it’s mellow guitar chords, but the up tempo nature of of Taking People. The guitar is a bit more playful at some part, doing random quick placed strum. Bathysphere is another cover, this time by fellow Slower artist Smog. We open with a techno beat that slowly drowns in the background and allows the acoustic guitar to take main stage. Cat Power’s voice is at it’s most emotional at this point and we hear a tiny cracks it brining the emotion even more so. She even went as far as to rewrite the lyric to give it her own flair and does so to great effect.

The next track is the most hunting and unsettling song on the entire album. It does so by taking a very sparse 2-chord guitar, having it play dominantly but in the background have the bass strumming rapidly in a faint whisper, almost inaudible. Combine that with Cat’s cathartic voice and the slow-paced drums making it even that much more haunting. The final factor bringing this all together is as always the writing containing lyrics like: “Oh, to be at the bottom of a river. Below the dark water, the devil all around.”
The final two tracks are both hunting as well, but to a lesser extent. Cat Power covers one of her own songs (not the last time she’ll do so) for the first, Enough. The very fast paced guitar and speeding drums play along until we reach the bridge that slows down and gives us a more rougher and hardedge feel. The final track, The Coat Is Always On, contains only a simple guitar until we reach the near end of the song in which drums join in. The guitar strums along with Cat Power’s voice while she and who I assume is Steve Shelley talk over the track. Both have slight southern accent that make an already dark track darker. Bringing the album to an amazing album to an amazing finish.

This album is without a doubt worth a listen. Quite and delicate while hunting and frighting at times, one can’t get more personal then this or at least I thought so. Cat Power somehow tops this performance in 1998’s follow up to What Would The Community Think, Moon Pic. But that, my readers, that is for another time and review.

Thanks for reading!