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Cat Power - The Greatest LP
Includes mp3 download of album.
If you are an artist at a crossroads/ "maturing point" in your career, it's a great idea to seek out the original musicians who played on music you adore and that inspire you greatly–it's the opposite of what Rick Rubin does with the old folks. The results, however, are often lackluster; it can just be too hard to forge a connection in a short period of time with studio dudes twenty to thirty years older than you. Chan Marshall, who took just three years between albums this time, returned to Memphis to record with many of the architects of Southern soul music at Ardent Studios on The Greatest. And from the first and titular tune, a mournful and gorgeous ballad with swelling strings, backing singer and shimmery guitar accompaniment that tells the tale of a boy who wants to become a great boxer, it's clear that the results of this experiment are uniformly awesome. The sultry-voiced artiste sounds fully at home within these songs, these lovely analog Southern sounds that bridge black and white musics. It's not like she's on a trip of trying to be Aretha or anything; besides, the arrangements on all the songs are different. The loping, fiddle-accented "Empty Shell" sounds like the Unholy Modal Rounders backing Bobbie Gentry. All the songs are pretty, slow and melancholy; there's nothing like "He War" on here. We are not in the habit of quoting press releases, but it's hard to beat this line from the Matador one-sheet: "If Alex Chilton were today a beautiful young woman, he'd sound like this." Amen, or something. –Mike McGonigal