You gaze around the crowded smoke filled room. The party is a cacophony
of people laughing, drinking and in different stages of discourse and
intercourse. Staring out the window is that one strange girl who
doesn't really want to socialize, but has an allure that everyone wants
to know. Chan (pronounced Sean) Marshallm better known as Cat Power, is
that girl. A storyteller whose story needs to be coaxed outward, but
when you invest the time to listen, it pays in huge dividends.
Cat Power weaves an austere sound that draws you in. Like Peggy Lee, Nico, Patti Smith and others before her, Marshall uses silence in song as much as shimmering notes to evoke a specific emotion. After seven full-length records and a bunch of singles of original material spanning over a decade, Cat Power takes a stab at interpreting some lesser-known gems from a variety of artists on her latest, Jukebox. The diversity of inspiration is incredible with helpings of Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, James Brown and others.
Selections of covers on this disc are as interesting as the world that Cat Power creates. "Lord Help" is from Jessie Mae Hemphill, an obscure female Mississippi blues guitarist who didn't record anything until her 40s. George Jackson's "Aretha, Sing One for Me" originally recorded over 35 years ago tells the story of the power of music to help mend a broken heart.Marshall even dismantles the soaring power of "New York, New York" made famous by Frank Sinatra and leaves behind a humbled drone of questions about the inspiration of Manhattan. - Chuck Arnold
Chuck Arnold is the former owner of an independent record shop and label and is currently the one staff person of the Bend Downtowners Association.