sun 14/08/2022

Album: Cat Power - Covers | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Cat Power - Covers

Album: Cat Power - Covers

Chan Marshall’s latest album of cover versions could benefit from some serious editing

It is what it says on the cover...

It has been claimed by a good many commentators over the years, that an album of cover versions suggests that an artist is running out of steam and inspiration. Jazzers normally get a pass on this one as they are far more inclined to improvise rather than merely copy – but where does this put Chan Marshall and her Cat Power outfit, a quarter (or so) of whose recorded output is cover versions?

Well, as far as Covers is concerned, things don’t look great. It’s four years since Wanderer, Marshall’s last collection of (almost all) original tunes, so she might have been expected to come up with something of her own in the meantime. Instead, her new album starts well and has a few decent tunes within, but it soon retreats into overly tasteful and insubstantial background music.

Sure, her take on Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion” is nicely calming and woozy, and Iggy Pop’s “Endless Sea” is transformed into a laidback but jagged blues with half-spoken, half-sung vocals. Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is a mellow jazzy blues and Dead Man’s Blues’ “Pa Pa Power” is chilled but hip-swinging. So much else here just feels flat and ignorable, though, Jackson Browne’s “These Days” and Nick Cave’s “I Had a Dream, Joe” being particularly instantly forgettable.

Marshall’s choice of songs on Covers is quite interesting, it is just unfortunate that her approach to them isn’t similarly engaging. However, given that Wanderer was such a good record, it must be hoped that her latest is just a temporary blip and the next one will be a disc that reinvigorates her repertoire with some new originals. Covers, however, could have benefitted from so much editing that it would have perhaps made a much better EP than a full album.

Marshall’s choice of songs on 'Covers' is quite interesting, it is just unfortunate that her approach to them isn’t similarly engaging

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