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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Elegant.
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...
Published on March 27 2004 by Gary Peterson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Contains enough for one pretty good EP.
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...
Published on Dec 9 2003 by Angry Mofo


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4.0 out of 5 stars Pure and simple, Chan. You got to love her., March 27 2004
By 
Triguy (Salem, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Free (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Elegant., March 27 2004
By 
Gary Peterson (San Diego, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Free (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. I have trouble with the lyrics and I listen intently wondering what this wonderful lady is trying to tell me, but then Names cuts right to the bone. Marvelous presentation! So, what are my favorites? That's a difficult choice as they're all so outstanding. As I'm writing this I'd say Good Woman, Werewolf and Babydoll. Perhaps tomorrow it might be Maybe Not, Names and Half Of You. Maybe sometime else, some of the others.
Thank you Chan; It's a exquisite album.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, A Good Cry, March 13 2004
By 
M. Savoie "waxnwane" (Bound Brook, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: You Are Free (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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3.0 out of 5 stars Contains enough for one pretty good EP., Dec 9 2003
This review is from: You Are Free (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.
One great talent of Marshall's is interpretation of other people's songs. Once someone else takes care of the words and music, it's all down to Marshall's quite powerful voice. The result is the spooky night-time picture of "Werewolf" and the bleak, rainy steppe of "Keep on Runnin'," where the cheeriest sentiment is "Goin' to keep on crawlin' till the day I die." These are the best songs on the album. Marshall has a history of doing this to songs, having even released a whole album comprised only of covers, and it works every time. In fact, one might think that Marshall would be best off recording only covers. Why not? After all, music has a rich tradition of great, renowned singers who didn't write any of the songs they sang, and I don't mean to include boy bands in that.
As is stands, though, You Are Free is a really inconsistent record, though it shows all of Cat Power's highs and lows. In that regard, it might be her definitive album. Basically, it's really good when it sticks to wasted acoustic guitar, piano, and withdrawn depression. Deviations from this, excepting the unbelievably catchy "Speak For Me," generally stumble, despite Dave Grohl's presence on drums. (Eddie Vedder appears here and there, too, but he's barely audible.) Whenever any attempt is made to bring the music to the foreground, its ineptitude becomes obvious. I like Cat Power, and I really like Marshall's voice; furthermore, I think that this album contains a number of genuinely very good songs. Even so, I can't blind myself to its faults.
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3.0 out of 5 stars WTF, Aug. 27 2003
By 
John Boy (Anchorage, AK United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
I am not sure what was going trough people's heads when they reviewed this CD and complained because they didn't know what they were getting into. This is the weakest leg for an opinion to stand on because, first of all, you should at least have SOME idea of what you are about to BUY is consisting of, and secondly, there are freaking samples, beyond this web-site's meager offerings, all over the net to allow you to form an educated laud or chaff. For me, someone who pays attention BEFORE pressing "pay now", this album's sound represents a problem with with most recording artist's works that follow the first. A progression into songs slightly more hollow, slightly more digestable, and slightly less intriguing. Collaborations turn out, most often, to be a pitfall as well. They should only make it to the record if it culminates in something augmentative, not something that homogenizes the intent or utterly fails, which is what has sadly happened on a few of the tracks. Seriously, Dave Grohl on drums? He could barely play for Nirvana. On the positive side, Ms. Power, as one of the ignorants put her, retains her personal, intimate honesty with every song she writes. That rarity alone merits a dive in this ever-wideningly public pool.
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4.0 out of 5 stars quiet, unassuming... candles and incense optional, July 20 2003
By 
Matthew Hill (Clive, IA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
I first encountered Cat Power in the form of a Rolling Stone interview showcasing Chan Marshall as the oft cliche'd "tortured artist at the of her form." Nearly a decade ago the number of "tortured artists" performing popular music had reached critical mass. Tastes changed and the demographics began to favor a younger music-buying contingent and their coveted disposable income. The major lables canceled the contracts of most of the "tortured artists", and what remains are the likes of Justin Timberlake, Pink, and Jennifer Lopez. Now that "tortured artists" have officially become a endangered species we must do whatever we can to support/encourage the development of those who choose carry the flame. However, there no need to take exceptional pity for Cat Power... the music is charming and elegiac, and can stand on it's own without the assistance of critical or popular appeal. Needless to say that it will not be aired by any conventional radio outlet (okay, NPR doesn't really count). You Are Free is best listened to alone, in a quiet space filled with diffused sunlight and mid-afternoon shadows. The album demands alot of patience from the listener and is not immediately satisfying, but after five or more rotations the songs eventually bear their fruit, resulting in a fine vintage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply touches the soul..., June 6 2003
By 
"alimosavian" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
I had no idea who Cat Power were when i first heard the name. My first thought was that it was a really bad name, so they probably weren't any good either.
But i was wrong, i logged onto their mini site at matador and saw the video for cross bones style (which is from an older album). I was immideatly moved by that song. So i went off and got their latest album (You are Free) and once i started playing it i couldn't stop. Chan Marshalls voice in incredible. It's the kind of voice that goes through your whole body. The kind that i had never heard. Their songs are very simple, and the lyrics are very personal the Chan. Or so it seems, they don't say much. Yet they're deep. They have different meanings to different persons.
Some of the songs aren't that strong. But most will nearly bring tears to your eyes. It's a bit depressing album, however i have to say it's probably the best album i've ever heard.
If you're like me, who likes to listen to deep and a tad sad music every once in a while. This is defintly one of the best buys you'll ever do.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 stars for a good album, June 2 2003
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
OK, I'm not gonna pretend that I know anything about Cat Power beyond what you find in the reviews for this record. As nearly everyone has said, Chan Marshall provides subdued vocals to minimal accompaniment. Don't pay attention to the big names mentioned - it's so not a big deal. I understand that not all music is complex and that many people appreciate sparse arrangments; however, I think too much of this album is too musically repetitive for me to enjoy it often. You may say that is the allure of Cat Power, but I know people in my city who don't have a cult following that can create simple songs more compelling than these. That is why I am blown away at the amount of people who will readily give this album 5 stars. To me, that is just as uselessly fanatic as the gazillion people who rate Britney Spears' debut album as perfect at her respective page. Man, we need to be so much more critical of our music. I can say this is interesting music at times and the lyrics are definitely unconventional and thoughtful. The first track's words I find particularly intriguing and the overdubbed "I don't blame you's" are effective. BUT - I can't say this is a masterpiece or brilliant. I just don't feel that. I am tired of both mainstream *and* indie singers/songwriters/bands being shamelessly overhyped and overpraised when they make mediocre music. Sorry for the tangent, but sheesh! One thing, the recycled paper CD case is cool, but I feel that my disk will become scratched easily. I also have to turn the case inside-out to remove the CD, so it's not exactly simple, but that is minor. Anyway, if I got this CD free I would not have a thing to say in the least, but I listened to Courtney Hole...
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3.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 stars for a good album, June 2 2003
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
OK, I'm not gonna pretend that I know anything about Cat Power beyond what you find in the reviews for this record. As nearly everyone has said, Chan Marshall provides subdued vocals to minimal accompaniment. Don't pay attention to the big names mentioned - it's so not a big deal. I understand that not all music is complex and that many people appreciate sparse arrangments; however, I think too much of this album is too musically repetitive for me to enjoy it often. You may say that is the allure of Cat Power, but I know people in my city who don't have a cult following that can create simple songs more compelling than these. That is why I am blown away at the amount of people who will readily give this album 5 stars. To me, that is just as uselessly fanatic as the gazillion people who rate Britney Spears' debut album as perfect at her respective page. Man, we need to be so much more critical of our music. I can say this is interesting music at times and the lyrics are definitely unconventional and thoughtful. The first track's words I find particularly intriguing and the overdubbed "I don't blame you's" are effective. BUT - I can't say this is a masterpiece or brilliant. I just don't feel that. I am tired of both mainstream *and* indie singers/songwriters/bands being shamelessly overhyped and overpraised when they make mediocre music. Sorry for the tangent, but sheesh! One thing, the recycled paper CD case is cool, but I feel that my disk will become scratched easily. I also have to turn the case inside-out to remove the CD, so it's not exactly simple, but that is minor. Anyway, if I got this CD free I would not have a thing to say in the least, but I listened to Courtney Hole...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lullaby Rock, May 24 2003
By 
Larry White (AdultPop.com) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: You Are Free (Audio CD)
Cat Power is the ill-conceived pseudonym of singer/songwriter/pianist Chan Marshall. Prior to this cd, Ms. Power's most successful album was generically titled The Covers Record, in which she performed covers of songs by other artists, including a version of 'Satisfaction' which, we're guessing, Messrs Jagger and Richards would have a hard time recognizing as their own. (Of course, judging strictly by appearances, we surmise that Mr. Richards would have difficulty recognizing his own reflection.) Whether singing folk, country, or even punkishly rocking out, Ms. Power (we can't bring ourselves to call her Cat) always sounds as if she's afraid of waking the baby in the next room. Her voice has the paradoxical ability to be both haunting and soothing at the same time. Likewise, her lyrics yin/yang between the elliptical and the direct, the melancholy and the hopeful. Her songs are shaped differently than the usual verse-chorus pattern to which pop music fans are accustomed. With their repetitive lines and sparse and sparser arrangements, they are like chants, capable of putting the listener into a trance-like state. At certain points on the record, we must admit, we have actually been pleasantly lulled to sleep. We always make sure we're awake, however, for the 2 songs in which, Ms. Power's airy delivery is given ballast by the earthly drone credited to "E.V.", which we're speculating is either Eddie Vedder or Erich Von Stroheim (but that would probably be "E.V.S."). Whether conscious or asleep, we find Cat Power to be a unique and compelling artist, unlike anyone else in the pop world at this time.
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