Chan Marshall, the face behind Cat Power, will most likely continue to be ignored by mainstream listeners. She’s that good.

Todd Weiser

Let them have their Vanessa Carlton and their Norah Jones – we’ve got Cat Power. Marshall’s first release of original material since 1998, You Are Free, showcases her immense talent as a songwriter and everything that is still true and good about music today.

Varying from slow, piano-only somberness to mid-tempo guitar songs, each track on You Are Free is beautifully crafted and wrought with sorrow and melancholy. Her voice is sweet and gentle at times while still carrying an underlying roughness that adds genuine conviction to her stories.

Marshall’s influences are clearly rooted in American folk and blues, yet she brings her own perspective to the table, creating a new but familiar sound. Standout tracks include the opener “I Don’t Blame You,” “Good Woman” and the John Lee Hooker cover “Keep on Runnin.”

You Are Free is a fantastic album to complement anyone’s collection of “sad bastard music.” Just make sure to hide any sharp implements before listening. Things get a little blue.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

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