You Are Free is the long awaited release of new material from Cat Power, better known as Chan Marshall. It’s been a while coming, and the question must be – has it been worth the wait? into the first track, I can say… yes. Sort of.
I Don’t Blame You is the sound of a fragile Tori Amos but manages to keep to the three minute mark, which is something that Tori fails to adhere to time and time again.
The thin, angular acoustic guitars that launch Free remind us of what Marshall does best – make the sublimely simple look complicated and layered. Her voice appears to have lost a bit of the rather irritating Riot Grrl snarl, and the gentler vocals suit the songs more than before.
Her trademark sound of lazy guitars mixed with violins and wandering vocals resurfaces on Good Woman, while the folk-tinged vocals bring back memories of the legendary Jeff Buckley – she has the same beautiful frailty to her voice as the much-missed Buckley had. Chan Marshall is a well-respected singer-songwriter, and it becomes obvious why when we discover that ‘friends’ such as The Foo Fighters‘ Dave Grohl and Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder jumped at the chance to appear on this album.
The charming blues tinge in Baby Doll provides a lovely break from otherwise trashy folk-pop, but it becomes boring after a while. Closing with Evolution, featuring the dark, deep vocals of Vedder, the album ends on a lonely note, but seems to have an ‘until next time’ appeal to it.
Although still emotionally charged, it appears Marshall’s outlook on life has brightened since the troubled What Would The Community Think and Moon Pix albums. Lyrically poor, musically good but a little samey, this release doesn’t quite match the brilliance of her earlier work.