Chan Marshall's gorgeous, evocative albums as Cat Power have gained even more critical and popular attention than her idiosyncratic on-stage behavior (and that's saying quite a bit). MOON PIX (1998) and YOU ARE FREE (2004), the two albums of all-original material preceding 2006's THE GREATEST, were spellbinding affairs that pitted Marshall's haunting voice against a stirring mélange of spare, low-key indie rock and atmospheric balladry. THE GREATEST, however, one of Marshall's most focused and impressive efforts, surpasses those two superb albums.
The album is characterized by elaborate horn and string arrangements and a warm, polished feel, much of which stems from the old-school Memphis soul musicians Marshall has backing her (guitarist Teenie Hodges and bassist Leroy Hodges, both of Al Green fame, appear, as does MGs replacement drummer Steve Potts, among others). The sweet, earthy sheen may lack some of the raggedness that pleased Marshall's indie fans, yet the artist has lost none of her incisive songwriting ability, whether on moving narratives (the title track), countrified lopes ("Could We"), or spare meditations on loneliness ("Where is My Love"). More immediately accessible that previous Cat Power releases, THE GREATEST is no less distinctive or engaging: it sounds less like selling out than buying in.
ReviewsRanked #6 in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "[S]he cuts deep soul with Memphis session men..." - Rolling Stone