Album: Cat Power – Covers review

by Philip Moss

Cat Power packs in all the feels on Covers – making this collection of interpretations her own

Cover versions are strange things. Some artists choose to simply mimic the original. While others use the bare bones – the chords, the melodies – and take them somewhere entirely different. On Covers, Chan Marshall does what she does best – not so much re-interpretations, as her interpretations – she turns them into Cat Power songs.

It is an art. And this isn’t the first time Marshall has dabbled in it. In 2000, she released The Covers Record, followed in 2008 by Jukebox. Then in 2018, Rihanna’s Stay (a duet with Lana Del Rey) sat as the centre piece of her last full length, Wanderer.

Frank Ocean’s Bad Religion sets the tone: vocal operatics and strings make way; there are lyric edits and adapted melodies. It’s two minutes longer than the Channel Orange version. Its rolling chords roll and roll. But somehow it feels even more concise. It could be a newly written Cat Power opener. It’s a song to lose yourself in, and it’s clear just how deep Marshall went in its crafting.

The cut up style reimagining continues. She adventures through Dead Man’s Bones’ Pa Pa Power – a new guitar line and a more disciplined chorus makes it Cover‘s most immediate song. She even goes back to her own song, Hate, from 2006’s The Greatest – included here as Unhate – as she presents the desolation of the original in a harder shell. ‘I hate myself and I want to die,’ she sings, but sixteen years on, she’s here giving new energy not only to this song, but Covers as a whole. In fact, only the Jackson Browne penned, These Days, made most famous by Nico doesn’t really venture from the path.

In an interview with Alexandra Pollard for The Independent, Marshall explained the ‘four billion different realms of feelings’ that one song could have on different people in relation to their own memories. On Covers, Chan Marshall has taken a seemingly unconnected group of songs, but woven her feelings right through each of them – and created a heart filled record that beats as one.

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