Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Mike Corrigan


You Are Free (Matador) -- the first collection of original material from Cat Power's Chan Marshall in almost five years -- reflects a personal reality so singular and enigmatic that exploring it is like pawing through a cigar box full of someone else's childhood treasures, marveling at the richness and speculating about the secret significance of each bauble.


The spare instrumental arrangements (often consisting of just the singer and her piano or guitar) fully surrender to Marshall's rich and agreeably raspy vocals, which are delivered in a lazy drawl and embrace the melodies like the waters of a muddy river. She emotes with simple inflections and volume that ranges from barely more than a whisper to full-throated crooning. Her warm, approachable delivery is often in stark contrast to the frequently dark nature of the material.


The album's ecstasy of sorrow is typified by the haunting, country-inflected "Good Woman," wherein the singer retreats from a fatally flawed relationship-affirming love while cutting to the bone with the stark declaration, "I don't want to be a bad woman / and I can't stand to see you be a bad man." On "He War," a parched rhythm guitar and a wildly ragged lead (complimented by guest Dave Grohl's nicely primitive drumming) introduce the album's most upbeat -- and right now I'm thinking best -- track. Yet the lyrics tell a different story. While playful put-downs and a seemingly personal focus suggest a standard kiss-off, the lines, "He war / He will kill for you / Hide from who you can" hints (especially in these anxious times) at something more sinister, at threats external and abstract. In fact, violence in many guises and magnitudes seems to be a common theme here (check into "Speak For Me," "Shaking Paper" and "Names").


You Are Free flutters a couple of times as tempos become slow and faint but never goes into full arrest. In fact, new thrills are uncovered with each listen. This is an album for those who live with unrealized possibilities, who are, on a daily basis, knocked out by the beauty and terror of existence. Marshall demands your full attention. You need only take up a position in that place you go to lick your wounds and allow the quiet urgency of these songs to remind you how cathartic and liberating a sullen, introspective afternoon can be.





Publication date: 03/20/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • A Win for Everyone
  • A Win for Everyone

    The water protectors at Standing Rock achieve an important victory
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • My Dinner with Fidel
  • My Dinner with Fidel

    Looking back nearly 20 years, when three Americans sat down with the Western Hemisphere's most notorious communist
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • 'No' to Sessions
  • 'No' to Sessions

    Trail Mix: Murray opposes AG pick Sessions, McMorris Rodgers' future
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 6

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Comment


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Otter Incompetence
  • Otter Incompetence

    Idaho's governor and his staff can't even get the easy things right
    • Sep 16, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation