Cat Power 

The Greatest

Once I wanted to be the greatest, laments Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) on the opening track of her conveniently titled new album. Thing is, now she's even better. In removing the neurotic tension that drove her commercial breakthrough, 2003's You Are Free, Marshall has discovered space, flow, and a jazzy calmness. The Greatest ambles along with an easy Southern gait, which makes sense considering she enlisted nearly half of Memphis to play on it: "Willie," "Living Proof," and "Lived in Bars" each contain a soulful horn arrangement, with the latter unfolding into a kind of doo-wop chorus. That's not to say Marshall has lost her grrrly edge, though. "Hate" and "Love & Communication" close out the record by offering revealing glimpses into Cat Power's next incarnation: a fiery, Cruella De Vil-style blues singer. Sounds great.

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