Following her recent mainstream success with The Greatest and her rollicking cover of Stuck Inside of Mobile on last year's I'm Not There soundtrack, Chan Marshall AKA Cat Power returns with a whole album of covers - something of a sequel to 2000's aptly titled The Covers Record.
This swirling unfocussed blur of technically prefect renditions ranges from the bonifide classics like New York, New York through Hank WIlliams' Rambling (Wo)man, Dylan's christian-era I Believe In You and even including a re-working of her own Metal Heart from the album Moon Pix. The backing band pulls together another list of legendary performers - including Spooner Oldham, Teenie Hodges and Larry McDonald, as well as more contempaorary players like Matt Sweeney and Jim White.
With Cat Power's appeal seemingly moving beyond music and into fashion and celebrity it all feels a bit like an indie version of X-Factor. Like someone at the Karaoke bar with a bit of talent, it's impressive but not as fun or impassioned as a group singalong to Freebird ...and certainly doesn't fulfill the promise of hear earlier records, or the power and subtlty of songs like Cross Bones Style. WIth the low-key ethic of earlier albums like You Are Free polished away into oblivion, Chan Marshall could well be heading towards a 200 night stint in Vegas, especially now that Celine Dion has called it a day.
Marshall often adds her own lyrics to covers - as Dylan would do and even Led Zeppelin would to to Dylan with In My Time Of Dying. While this can inject a more interesting twist, it only highlights what's wrong with this record. While covers have always been an integral part of Cat Power's repertoire - and undeniably part of her live presence - it's the original material that works best here. With Song For Bobby, she tells of meeting long-time idol Bob Dylan and it's that personal touch that gives the song something more than just being an interesting rendition.
Seeming little more than a minor diversion as Chan runs for President, this album might just tide you over until she gets back to the main event.