|1. I don't Blame You|
|3. Good Woman|
|4. Speak For Me|
|7. He War|
|8. Shaking Paper|
|9. Baby Doll|
|10. Maybe Not|
|12. Half Of You|
|13. Keep On Runnin'|
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
Maybe it's my own depressive tendencies revealed, but I find more in her less catchy tunes. Songs like "Names" and "Good Woman" are breathtaking-simply because they are stark, simply because her voice cracks with the pain (and I don't believe it's an affectation). It's just really honest stuff.
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.Read more ›
'You Are Free' is crafty, melodic, layered, painful, beautiful & inspired. Its' quiet spaces give way to angry lamentations that manage to flow together seamlessly.
If you're into early PJ Harvey (esp. her demo work) the Cowboy Junkies 'Whites Off Earth Now' album, Edith Frost, or Patty Griffin's first album- then this is an absolute must!
Anyone who can sing, "turn out the lights, set yourself on fire, say goodnight," & make it sound sexy & like a piece of freedom, deserves attention.
Highly, Highly recommended!