A stroll through Echo Hall.
Not your average release... Kicking off with divinely twisted version of crooner hell ‘New York’, it could quite easily be mistaken for something other than the most ludicrous of karaoke buggery songs. So, do not get any misconceptions; this will be the damn finest version of Sinatra-sleaze you’ll ever have the privilege to hear. Mixed with a filthy feel that is akin to Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, you will be hard pushed to find such an original and listenable cover.
This is ‘Jukebox’, ladies and gentlemen. This is Cat Power’s second release of covers, with the additional ‘new song’, and a spin on her own previously released track, ‘Metal Heart’.
Mysterious slanted covers include Dylan’s ‘I Believe In You’ and Hank William’s ‘Ramblin’ (Wo)Man’, with takes that truly make it hard for you to remember the original. The genius of ‘Jukebox’ is to take the old, ragged songs with barely any life left in them and turn them into her own. They are taken away from their private hells of bastardisation, or a place where the grooves are worn down by generations of blood-thirsty listeners. Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Ms. Power) leads them by the hand and into a secret shelter, giving them a new lease of life with her trademark, honey-drip sound, coating them in a new skin, and leaving them to float and wander through her midnight landscapes, and given the chance to leave behind the torment of their old lives.
Of course, a release like this will not stand its own ground from start to finish. But with a meatier backing as opposed to the last covers album, which this time round includes the mighty Judah Bauer, ex-Blues Explosion guitarist and many others, this release is worthwhile. Even if some or all of the material is a filler for a temporary dry patch in personal creativity (and this is all speculation, you understand), it doesn’t matter. Chan does something quite predictable in the long run, with a sound and style which overpowers her writing, but is so enchanting and full of Memphis soul that you will remain faithful. Pretty soon, you’ll be pining for the next tour through the halls of ghostly guitars and softly cracking snares.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare ‘Jukebox’ to her original release, ‘The Greatest’, for they are two clearly different beasts. However, there is an undeniable link throughout all Cat Power gifts, and it will hold nothing new in store to those already up to speed.