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The Covers Record
nude as the news review
rating:  6.0 out of 10

Listening to most Cat Power albums evokes a somewhat unsettling feeling, where one is left worrying about songstress Chan Marshall and hoping that wherever she may be, she is doing alright. In a rock community that is littered with hillbilly savants and instrumental kraut-rockers, Marshall’s heartfelt lyrics and authentic delivery make her a standout artist, while at the same time making her seem extremely vulnerable. Worry no more, friends of Cat Power, The Covers Record has arrived.

This is definitely an album for the Cat Power fan. The uninitiated will still perceive these songs as music to slit your wrists to, but The Covers Record is actually the first time Chan Marshall lets her hair down for more than one song per album. On Moon Pix and What Would The Community Think?, Marshall only really eases up on “Cross Bones Style,” and “Taking People” (respectively), but on Covers, she immediately slides into a loose version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as if it were a campfire ballad.

“Satisfaction,” is the perfect example of why The Covers Record works. Marshall takes the Rolling Stones classic and peels back the layers until the song is completely hers. She omits practically everything recognizable about the tune in the first place - including the distortion, Keith’s central riff, and even the chorus - until she is left with only the verses. Armed with her acoustic guitar, Marshall truly reinvents the song, and the rest of the album pretty much follows suit.
Cat Power, self-accompanied save for one guitar part (courtesy of Chavez's Matt Sweeney), beautifully meshes traditional folk tunes with the songs of Nina Simone, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and Moby Grape to create an almost flawless soundtrack to a lazy afternoon on the front porch.

The only two songs that don't fit in with the rest of the album are Smog's "Red Apples" and Marshall's own previously released "In this Hole." These piano-based compositions are indeed songs to slit your wrists to, and they completely ruin the fluidity of the record. Why Marshall chose to put these arpeggiated songs of gloom is unclear, but the real letdown is that she covers them verbatim: she adds nothing new to either track.

Luckily Marshall finishes things up with a relaxing version of the traditional "Salty Dog," and an endearing reinterpretation of "Sea of Love" that will force any lover to want to grab their sweetheart for a slowdance across the kitchen floor.

— Mark Groeschner