This is a permanent fixture on my most-listened-to iPod lists. Quite simply, it is a thing of real beauty and I never get tired of it. You Are Free is definitely my favourite Cat Power album, and this is probably my favourite song from it – the perfect lo-fi pop song.
This is from the same record and I love it just as much. So many of the Chan Marshall trademarks are there to full effect: sparse, beats, deceptively simple but kind of universal lyrics, beautiful/smoky/melancholy singing. So many people say that Cat Power songs are depressing, but I really disagree – they often feel so triumphant, and this one always makes me feel empowered and energised.
3. Cross Bones Style
For full effect, you need to watch the video. It is fabulous – cute young pre-makeover Chan with her short hair and chubby face. The song on its own is quite enough, though – probably the saddest dance song you will ever hear.
4. Nude As The News
This was the first Cat Power song I ever heard – on a mixtape given to me by a girl I don’t see any more. It’s spooky and skeletal and beautiful – the very best of her early work, in my humble opinion.
5. Lived In Bars
Like so many of her songs, this one makes me want to dance and cry all at once. It starts off wistful and builds up to such a gorgeous, unexpectedly jazzy rhythm that makes an uncontrollable joyous feeling build up in my chest until I can’t breathe.
6. Song for Bobby
This is the only original song on the otherwise all-covers Jukebox. IT fits in perfectly because it is an homage to ‘God’ Dylan. It is fitting, lovely, romantic, and really cute.
The first song on her new record, Sun. Even the first line of it – ‘never knew love like this…’ – is sung so beautifully that it sets the tone for the whole album. It’s lusher than a lot of her early work – lots of synths and beats for the first time – but still somehow very stark. There’s something really haunting about many of the lines in this, repeated for great effect: ‘Marry me, marry me to the sky… If I die before my time/Bury me upside down. Cherokee, kiss me, when I’m on my way down…’
Chan does such a lovely line in smoky, jazzy covers. And a Joni cover – of one of my favourite songs of all time, no less – especially.
Since this came out, I cannot stop listening to it. It has become my anthem, something to keep me going when I need to be brave. ‘It’s up to you to be a superhero/It’s up to you to be like nobody.’
10. I Don’t Blame You
A poignant piano moment from You Are Free – ending on my favourite LP, where I started. A perfect circle, as far as I am concerned, on all levels.