Chan Marshall, who records as Cat Power, followed her 2006 album, The Greatest, with a prompt breakdown, canceling tour dates and costing her record label, Matador, a boatload of cash. But the album was a triumph, and by the end of the year, a newly sober Marshall played the best shows of her career. Technically, there are only two original songs on Jukebox, but Marshall again proves — as she did on The Covers Record — that anything she touches becomes wholly her own. Backed by the Dirty Delta Blues Band, Marshall dips into the catalog that made possible her own Memphis soul. Radical reconstructions are everywhere: Sinatra’s “New York, New York” becomes a slinky, down-tempo paean to restlessness, more cautionary tale than celebration, and a Hank Williams classic becomes “Ramblin’ (Wo)man.” Dylan is reworked, too (and not for the first time), with “I Believe in You,” from his Christian phase. And the sole new song on the album, “Song for Bobby,” addresses the man directly, as Marshall writes about discovering his music as a young teenager, and later, catching his ear with her own work. Recalling the view of her icon from her perspective as an audience member, she asks, “Oh my god, can you tell me who you were singing to?” One answer is certainly Chan Marshall, who returns the favor in song. -
About the Author
Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review.