Cat Power, The Greatest

Jay Ruttenberg

By Jay Ruttenberg

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Greatest

Cat Power
Southern Gothic soul with the legendary Hi Records rhythm section.

Cat Power's fans, detractors and those level-headed types who flirt between both camps generally agree that the singer, Chan Marshall, is blessed with a lovely, unaffected voice. Opinions diverge in how that voice is applied. When stripped of grounded instrumental backing, Marshall can seem rambling and lost; when paired with dynamic musicians, however, she is emboldened. The artist chooses the latter path on The Greatest, recording in Tennessee with session vets who helped Al Green and Willie Mitchell craft Memphis soul in the '60s and '70s. The subsequent work is downbeat, boozy, spooky and very Southern — the archetypical Cat Power album, even if it took a bunch of old souls to bring to fruition.