When another music fan mentioned Cat Power in conjunction with Shannon Wright, I decided to give Cat Power a try. Wright's multi-instrumental prowess and rich, expressive voice were a marvel, and her Flightsafety was easily the best album of 1999.
As for Cat Power, all I can say is that it was a sore, sore disappointment.
Chan Marshall's voice is pretty, but never goes beyond that. She sings in a coo, usually accompanied by a single instrument (guitar or piano). The result? Recordings that are mostly in one tempo, and not enough diversity. Whereas Wright uses twisty melodies, lyrical poetry and moments of exhilarating strength to enrich even her slower songs, Marshall stubbornly sticks to the low-fi minimalistic approach and, quite frankly, induced sleep in me. Her lyrics are nothing to write home about, and the whole album is like a nice girl next door without anything really interesting to say -- sweet for a couple of minutes, but not nearly enough to sustain a whole album's running time.
For low-fi, intimate music with heart and brains, go for Julie Doiron's Loneliest in the Morning.