Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
March 29, 2003
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Cat Power
Are You Free

We've all heard many a piano solo from men and women such as billy joel, elton john, tori amos, and fiona apple...but the manner in which chan marshall projects her music and feeling is so much more potent and disturbingly honest that, at once, she almost obliterates the modus operandi of most solo sets. she is one of the few musicians who, when she sings, seems to talk to you irrespective of the subject matter. for me the simple grace with which she performs her songs is genius. armed only with a guitar and a piano on most of them, you feel a very urgent sense of vulnerability with it all as though she wants to bear something more influential than a mere historical episode. one can hardly describe the way her voice, soothing yet somehow naively un-burnished, coats your ears.

the intrigue is in the album's simplistic construction. as i previously mentioned, most songs use simple key progressions on piano or guitar as though she was still trying to create an album. yet this only heightens her allure because it's all so beautifully sincere and fragile. most times it seems as though she's on stage alone trying to subdue trepidation or she's in a hotel room (consequently where she actually did pen some songs) trying to recompose bits and pieces of feelings she had kept within. it all has the same intrigue as watching someone scrambling to write a letter to a previous lover ('Good Woman'), a poem against life bullies ('He War'), or even a poem about personal emancipation ('Shaking Paper'). with vocalist eddie vedder and drummer dave grohl surreptitiously making their way on a couple songs, there emerges an added level of intimacy.

wow...this stuff is amazing.

Artist: Cat Power
Album: You Are Free
Label: Matador
Rating: 10/10

Release date: February 18, 2003
Label: Matador
Rating: 10.0 / 10

[RMR]