Sound Bites

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2008

Listening to "Jukebox" is like sitting in a bar, late at night, after most folks have gone home and the band is on stage winding down by playing its favorites.

As she did with her first covers record, released in 2000, Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, puts her own idiosyncratic stamp on a group of songs by her favorite singers.

Unlike last time when it was just the broken and shy Power, a guitar or piano and her influences, "Jukebox" features Power's new bluesy, soulful sound with The Dirty Delta Blues Band backing her as on 2006's breakthrough album, "The Greatest."

Power's lived-in voice is fantastic as she puts a new, otherworldly spin on Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York," slows down Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain" or gives Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" a funky soul on "Ramblin' (Wo)Man."

Most of the songs have a little organ, a little slide guitar and new interpretations that are nothing like the original. She slaps the dust off The Highwaymen's "Silver Stallion" and passes away a rainy afternoon with Joni Mitchell's "Blue."

She even gives herself the treatment, re-imagining her own song "Metal Heart" from "Moon Pix," the first album that showed her unbounded promise. As she has with most of these covers, she adds gravitas in the arrangements and vocals scarred by liquor and cigarettes.

While we'd rather have an album of original material, "Jukebox" is a nice way to pass the time while we wait.

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