Cat Power’s Top 20 Tracks – Ranked! | Cat power

20. Love and communication (2006)

The closing track from The Greatest, an album that saw Chan Marshall (AKA Cat Power) collaborate with a roll call of legendary Memphis soul musicians. Here, they create a mood of subtle but increasing intensity, the perfect musical foil for Marshall’s exploration of the messy complications of love, “like a spider filling your guts.”

19. Song to Bobby (2008)

A Jukebox original on covers, Song to Bobby holds its head high in a fairly exalted songwriting society. Apparently written and recorded on the spot when Marshall received an invitation to meet Bob Dylan, it quivers with the infectious excitement of an obsessive fan: “Oh my God, can you tell me who you were singing for?”

18. Colors and Children (1998)

Marshall had written some great songs before, but Moon Pix – which turns 25 this month – was his artistic breakthrough: a consistently astonishing set. On Colors and the Kids, the arrangement is stripped down to Marshall’s vocals and piano, but that’s all the song needs – it’s poignant and frankly confessional (“the music bores me to death”) , as if I was listening to something private.

Cat Power in New York in 2006.
Cat Power in New York in 2006. Photography: David Corio/Redferns

17. Sun (2012)

Sparse and modern – it was mixed at the end Philippe Zdar by Cassius – Sun was markedly different from the previous Jukebox and The Greatest. But the hypnotic electronic sound of the title track – is that Auto-Tune on the backing vocals? – only underlines the old soul, deeply lived quality of Marshall’s voice: a powerful cocktail.

16. Black (2018)

Marshall’s relationship with her label Matador ended badly: she claimed they were pushing her to be more like Adele. It’s perhaps understandable that his next album, Wanderer, is full of goodbyes, including the song Black – the saga of someone who saved his life at his lowest point, but ended up dying himself – is the most powerful and poignant.

15. Frozen Water (1996)

On the one hand, Ice Water sounds a lot like a product of the mid-90s American underground – spidery guitars, muffled vocals, a stripped-down arrangement that feels like it’s going to fall apart any minute to the other. But there’s more to it: the power of Marshall’s bluesy vocals and the chilling lyrical depiction of a rape victim.

14. I Don’t Blame You (2003)

It’s possible that the sympathetically drawn troubled musician in I Don’t Blame You is Marshall herself, still one of rock’s most erratic live performers. Whoever is in the lyrics, it’s a fabulous song, the warmth of the melody at odds with the dismay described in the lyrics.

13. Ruin (2012)

In Ruin, Marshall recounts her travels – from Belfast to Mozambique – then returns home to find everyone “moaning and moaning”: a broadside against self-centered apathy ensues (“some people have nothing to eat”) , against a backdrop of hypnotic piano, drums and octave jumping bass that could be on a disco track. A delight.

12. No Sense (1998)

For Moon Pix, Marshall recorded with Jim White and Mick Turner of Dirty three, the group from which Warren Ellis comes – Nick Cave’s current musical flagship. No Sense shows how in tune they were with his material: the sound is refreshingly alive and raw, as close to the brink of collapse as the relationship Marshall sings about.

11. Good Wife (2003)

Cat Power in London in 2021.
Cat Power in London in 2021. Photograph: David Vintiner/The Guardian

It’s not country music per se, but there’s a typical country feel to Good Woman, a regretful breakup song tinged with darkness (“I don’t want to be a bad woman and I can’t stand see you being a bad woman.” bad man”) decorated with a scratch violin. It’s desperately sad and – with its chorus of choruses – incredibly beautiful.

10. Say (1998)

Moon Pix is ​​full of repetitive guitar figures that bury themselves under your skin, and Say offers a perfect example: there’s nothing in the arrangement other than sparse bass guitar. The lyrics talk about a breakup with a cocktail of warmth and cynicism: “Learn to say the same thing” is pretty sardonic relationship advice.

9. Lighthouses (1993)

Lo-fi and sometimes noisy (Itchyhead sounds a bit like drummer Steve Shelley’s main band, Sonic Youth), Marshall’s debut album, Dear Sir, isn’t the best introduction to his work, but closer, Flashlights is magnificent: a two-chord blast that waxes and wanes in intensity, its relentless forward movement carrying you with it.

8. War (2003)

There’s an argument that the best track on You Are Free is Marshall’s sexy, hiss-laden cover of Michael Hurley’s 1965 single Werewolf, but this list stays true to his own material. In addition, He War is quite incredible: Dave Grohl’s drums supporting a raw guitar, an almost anthemic chorus. Marshall apparently hates it.

7. Crossbones Style (1998)

“WHO whore is it?” Grohl exclaimed upon hearing Cross Bones Style, his first exposure to Marshall’s “chilling” vocals. It’s an adjective that certainly fits: inspired by a nightmare, Cross Bones Style is incredibly frightening. Marshall considered it a “dance song” and filmed a video filled with Madonna-inspired moves.

Listen to the Cross Bones style.

6. Woman (2018)

“Don’t you feel better standing in the street with your protest sign with someone else next to you? » offered Marshall about his collaboration with Lana Del Rey: Driven by an electric piano, it’s Marshall at his most pop, but a deliciously livid homage to his former label lies beneath its breezy surface.

5. The Greatest (2008)

The most lavish expression of despondency imaginable: Marshall’s voice is smoky and worried, the lyrics are filled with disappointment, and the verses seem to long for the grave. But the music is sublime: strings, softly cooing choirs, a blanket of reverb, a wonderful melody.

4. Manhattan (2012)

A complete joy and an unexpected entry from Cat Power into the pantheon of great New York songs, Manhattan is ambivalent – ​​alternately intimidated and dismissive of its subject, pausing to note how unaffordable – but the pulsing drum machine and soaring piano still capture a sense of anticipation and excitement at the rhythm of the city.

Listen to Manhattan.

3. Naked as the News (1996)

What would the community think? was the first album Marshall recorded in a professional studio and she brought one of her biggest songs to the session. The singer’s oblique account of an abortion she suffered when she was 20 is a heartbreaking and haunting experience: filled with confusion – “where’s anyone?” – self-loathing and fury.

Subsequently covered by Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode – who saw that coming in 1998? – Metal Heart is Moon Pix’s glorious centerpiece, a fragile but powerful note about accepting your flaws and vulnerabilities, blessed with a lovely melody. It sounds incredibly spontaneous, like you’re listening to the song as it’s being composed.

1. Lived in Bars (2006)

It’s close, but this booze-soaked highlight from The Greatest just clinched the top spot. The music shifts from a slow, slightly giddy after-hour to something more upbeat that one could mistake for a simple feel-good refrain, perfectly reflecting its ambiguous lyrics. They alternately recall Marshall’s troubled childhood (she once said she was regularly dragged to bars “until 2 a.m.” by her mother), bristle with anger and touch on her own complicated relationship with alcohol (she had an alcohol-induced breakdown shortly after the release of The Greatest): “There’s nothing like living in a bottle and nothing like being done with it all this for the world.” It’s a song that evokes a set of contradictory emotions in less than three minutes: funny, desperately sad, warm, melancholic and painful.

Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert is released on November 10 on Domino

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