Cat Power

The two-minute take on "New York, New York" that opens Cat Power's second album of covers is almost too easy. Iconic to a fault and not too engaging musically, it's mostly a warm-up for Chan Marshall and her newly minted Dirty Delta Blues Band. The group succeeds The Greatest's Memphis Rhythm Band and is named for the players' musical origins: the Dirty Three (drummer Jim White), the Delta '72 (keyboardist Gregg Foreman), and the Blues Explosion (guitarist Judah Bauer). Bassist Erik Paparazzi is the odd man out. The band is ace and the song selection is heavy on older tunes, but of course, the star here is Marshall's quietly devastating voice. It's as consistent as ever, whether commanding "Hey, baby" on Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" or slinking over the unhurried honky-tonk of Bob Dylan's "I Believe in You." As on The Covers Record, Marshall redoes a song of her own, and so Moon Pix's "Metal Heart" is anchored here with keys instead of jangly guitar, though it still grows plenty stormy. The new original "Song to Bobby" is a solemn yet musing charmer, while the Highwaymen's "Silver Stallion" makes you wish for a whole country record from Marshall. The closing number, Joni Mitchell's "Blue," is a sweet sendoff to this melancholy grower, its quivering organ accumulating reverb and smoothing considerably the sharp edges of the original.


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