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You Are Free

4.2 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 3 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B00007JVBI
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,217 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. I don't Blame You
2. Free
3. Good Woman
4. Speak For Me
5. Werewolf
6. Fool
7. He War
8. Shaking Paper
9. Baby Doll
10. Maybe Not
11. Names
12. Half Of You
13. Keep On Runnin'
14. Evolution

Product Description

Product Description

The first album in four years from Chan Marshall, one of the premier female singer-songwriters of our generation. Her richly complex vocal stylings and minor-key poetics have made her an indie superstar. This album, printed on recycled paper and recorded with renewable resources, explores the world of relationships and fame. Catchy, intense, and beguiling. "Her voice sounds liker her soul laid bare--arresting, beautiful and evocative"--Nylon.


Many artists strive for eccentricity, but few carry it off as convincingly as Chan "Cat Power" Marshall. Over the past few years, her gigs have become legendarily flaky, engrossing marathons of shyness, fragments, works in progress and moments of transcendent beauty. Five years on from her last collection of original songs (1998's Moon Pix), Marshall has finally managed to rein in the silvery brilliance of these shows.

The 14 pieces on You Are Freestill sound pretty loose and spontaneous, but compared with their rangy, digressive live incarnations they've been pulled into focus, helped by a notable supporting cast featuring Dave Grohl on drums and Eddie Vedder on harmonies. This time, Marshall's impressionistic vision is expressed with a new clarity whilst retaining the understatement and sense of dislocation that's always made it so affecting. Comparisons are sketchy: Marshall has previously been seen as kin to Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Smog. Here, though, the elegant punch of "Free" and "He War" provide an American underground counterpart to PJ Harvey, while two outstanding piano blues ("I Don't Blame You" and "Names") are wonderfully evocative of Ni! na Simone. Confirmation, finally, that Marshall is one of the most original and compelling singer-songwriters around. --John Mulvey

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Chan Marshall is truly an American treasure. One can fantasize her sitting on the front porch, dreamy, strumming away her fleeting thoughts and authentic heartfelt tunes on a cheap guitar before she runs off to meet the 'dirty three' for a gig at the roadhouse. There is no pop hype and highly produced crap here. She is the real thing. If a person is looking for the industry formula like Janet Jackson, or the popular sound of Beth Orton (who she is often compared to), Cat Power will bore you to tears. But is you want the real thing, low budget reality, Chan Marshall is easy to love and respect as a REAL female musician who is a diamond in the rough.
'You Are Free' is a sweet transition from her past. She seems to have isolated the best moods of 'What Would The Community Think' with the metronome mantra of 'Moon Pix' and settled with her signature sound, in spite of her strange behavior as a live performer. All cuts on 'You Are Free' are exclusively Chan Marshall. When you first hear 'He War' you will ask yourself "have I ever heard anything like this before?" Your final answer will be "No". Dave Grohl's influence on 'Speak For Me' is conspicuous. I truly hope they work together on her next album. 'I Don't Blame You', 'Good Woman' and 'Fool' epitomise the lone Chan. Michael Hurley should be blushing to hear his ol tune 'Werewolf' swaggered by Chan. Last but not least, Is she giving Eddie Vetter a singing lesson on 'Evolution'?
I will support Chan/ Cat Power through her career. This is american music...pure and simple...without the frills.
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Format: Audio CD
I first became aware of Cat Power music through an interesting woman I met on the internet. She suggested the "You Are Free" CD for the best listen. I looked it up, read a few rather mixed reviews and purchased the CD. It arrived on a Saturday afternoon; I played it that evening. I was feeling weary of the world, somewhat lonely and I was sitting in a dimly-lit room. A half bottle of reasonably good Merlot was by my side and my cat, JR, was napping on the coffee table. I can't think of a better setting in which to first hear this wonderful music.
Cat Power is basically Chan Marshall, who accompanies herself on guitar and piano, plus a small assortment of supporting musicians. Every song on the CD is excellent but I have strong preferences for some. On four of the tracks (Free, Speak for Me, He War and Shaking Paper) Chan is accompanied by a small band and on one track (Evolution) she sings a duet with a very subdued and backgroundish Eddie Vedder. All are first rate and provide variety. The real strength of the album, however, lies with the other nine tracks (I Don't Blame You, Good Woman, Werewolf, Fool, Babydoll, Maybe Not, Names, Half of You and Keep on Runnin'). Here Chan functions essentially as a soloist singing and playing piano or guitar. It might be easy to criticize her as a vocalist, instrumentalist or writer as the music is so simple. However, the melodic combination she presents provides a presence so strong that it feels as if you have a cherished friend in the room playing some wonderful songs just for you. Add to this a masterly arrangment that lightly and elegantly blends little touches of electric guitar, cello, violin and voices and gives a music of astonishing charm, beauty and depth.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a great triumph over adversity and tragedy in life. A mostly mournful--rather than celebratory--acknowledgement of the fact of Freedom. Listening is like taking that deep breath and deciding to heal a lot of hurt you've been holding.
Overall the songs are slow and comtemplative, with a few somewhat-upbeat rock moments ("Free", "Good For Me", "He-War".) Chan Marshall pairs her clear sad voice with piano, or accoustic guitar, or electric guitar, on different songs. Guests include David Grohl and Eddie Vedder.
The album opens with "I don't blame you", such a simple and beautiful song. It rings so true as a classic, you wonder as you listen how it could never have been sung before now. "Free" is a fun pop-rock venture introducing the word 'free' that will be echoed throughout the album in other pieces. "Werewolf" (a cover of Michael Hurley 70's acid-folk song) moves almost like a dirge, like a cloud in the sky languidly uncovering a full-moon that we know will transform us into animal. "Names" moves like a reading of names of holocaust victims, only here it recounts the stories of preteens molested or surviving only through prostitution. Yet there is no pity, instead more an stoic depiction of reality for some.
Every song has its strength, whether depicting a painful or fragile personal weakness, or a leap of faith to heal, or an account of abuse.
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Format: Audio CD
Chan Marshall's live performances, which frequently entail such events as Marshall (Cat Power to her friends) breaking down in tears and running offstage after two minutes, are the stuff of indie legend, but she's most famous for her voice, a parched Southern drawl that has seen everything and speaks only of the dustiest roads and most lonesome, Faulknerian counties. Unfortunately, when it comes to actual music, Marshall doesn't really know how to play anything all that well. Thus, she writes a lot of one- and two-note songs. Fans of low-fidelity, technically incompetent albums will rejoice, but the rest of us might have a hard time getting past that.
But actually, for all its primitivism, the music isn't all that bad. The real problem is that Marshall is a really erratic songwriter. On one hand, "I Don't Blame You" is a perfect, emotionally complex song, addressed to some nameless angry musician (probably Marshall herself). On the other hand, there's "Maybe Not," which explains to us that "we can _all_ be free...maybe not in words, maybe not in look, but with your mind." Oh, come on, does she even believe that? Other times, the songs just don't make sense - "Fool" is supposedly a rumination on the American lifestyle, but is too oblique for one to get any real insight out of it. When the music is as simple as it is, and the focus is on the singing and lyrics, this sort of thing can be a problem. And then there's "Names," an extremely, uh, _direct_ narrative about the various mishaps that befell Chan's childhood friends, all involving sexual abuse. On first listen, it's a petrifying tale. Afterwards, the very artlessness and uniformity of the stories kind of lead one to doubt them, mean as that might be. Still, real or not, it certainly gets one's attention.
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