A voice where there is no place to disguise truth lives inside Cat Power. Her winter 2022 release, Covers, shared via Domino Recording Company on January 14th, establishes fleeting feelings eternalised in music are a captured polaroid of one's present state; nothing is permanent. CP revisits the havoc of her 06 track Hate through wistful eyes, realising how easy it is for any soul on planet Earth to hit a low and slowly re-build, revealing her current version named Unhate.
Songs that we idolise from periods of our life patiently sit without judgement until they are needed again from our library. Power, Chan Marshall, cherry-picks titles from her collections - from birth to present day - that have shaped the singer-songwriter into who she is, beginning with her grandmother introducing her to Billie Holiday's I'll be Seeing You. Cat treats the number to her beloved guitar that takes presidency and is greeted on most tracks - but retains gramophone grace.
Influential women reign supreme with Power discovering the ultimate treasure: a box of cassettes and in and amongst the jewels, It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels by Kitty Wells. Authentic queen Kitty is hailed as the first female Country star; Cat honours this with a dusting of traditional riffs, but her dense bass fetches the sultry tones. Sensual Portishead appeal and Lana Del Ray's California sweet and salty vibe is memorialised in White Mustang, where Power's drawling words make haste for nobody.
Joining the big boys and owning the stature, Endless Sea swerves between bluesy after-hours cymbals, opaque bass and peaks of guitar. Although this belongs to Mr Iggy Pop - first heard by Cat in Michael Hutchinson's film Dogs in Space - you will feel the influence of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, also borrowed from for the update of I Had a Dream, Joe: primal drum beats and a slowed pace differentiate from its Pogue tainted master. Continuing this woven thread of artistry, The Pogues find their light in one of her favourite tunes, A Pair of Brown Eyes, given a fresh spin as a drumless Sea Shanti sway on the pier by tough gals.
Khol-lined eyes look up from the floor purposely, dramatically slow in the uncurrent of Radiohead's Talk Show Host for Bad Religion - the original beautiful performed by Frank Ocean, which is steered by the piano and guitar riffs as harmonies add to its allure. The track is not too dissimilar from Oceans version; this can be said for Nico's pretty, floral folk, These days, never straying too far down a new path. However, Against the Wind by Bob Seger- a track that helped Cat heal from the loss of a friend- is not a cheery as its initial format, taking Cash-like Mercy Seat keys propelled by playful vocal rhythms embroidering a cream lace texture.
Not afraid to deconstruct and build, Pa Pa Power from Dead Man Bones brings out the shadowy, delayed guitar currently exposed by Fontaines D.C. and parades the confidence of another female force who could comfortably re-imagine this: Charlotte Gainsbourg. A shift from the strummed to the piano and distorted voice appears for Here Comes a Regular, stirring memory of a struggling artist in New York City using her last dollar as only she could: to air this track on the jukebox at Mona's.
Rob Schanpf mixed and engineered Covers at Los Angeles Mant Studios; Cat Produced it all. Interesting links connect within this eclectic group of artists, links that are not obvious, and a little thinking occurs. But the one true and fascinating link, and will be in many minds from this day onwards, is Cat Powers and the beautiful recollections she shares with candour.
Article by Beverley Knight