Covers Review: Converting Magnificence Into SufficiencyPosted by Mike Schuck
If Chan Marshall's 11th album included all of Cat Power's songs in their original form, it would be a fantastic playlist. It would be genre-spanning, taking in everything from forgotten classics (country superstar Kitty Wells' It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels) to beloved classics (Nico's These Days), from obscure numbers by obscure artists (Pa Pa Power by Ryan Gosling's band Dead Man's Bones) to obscure numbers by the greats (Iggy Pop's The Endless Sea), and it would be genre-spanning – there is jazz (Billie Holiday's
However, as a covers CD, it is less life-enhancing. Marshall has substituted the voices of musicians with very unique voices with her ambient yet breathily quiet vocals (plus rumbling and folksy instrumentation).
Because these songs tend to have wending, impressionistic melodies, they don't fully get through without a really unique delivery.
A Pair of Brown Eyes, stripped of Shane MacGowan's unmistakable rasp, is still lovely but significantly less exciting; White Mustang and Bad Religion are similarly stripped of their intensity.
A nuanced interpretation on a song that has a strong hold on the cultural consciousness, such as Marshall's warmer, looser version of These Days, is valuable, while other pieces, such as the bristlingly weird The Endless Sea, are simply rendered more commonplace and accessible. Covers is more like watered-down copies of semi-hidden treasures than new spins on old favorites.
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