Up and down the tempo goes, from unplugged to plugged in, this record gives off the feeling that it's being performed by one of your friends in the corner of your living room. Everyone sits around, get balmy and smudgy eyed on too much red wine with no sign of sleep for hours (or maybe days if this glorious music carries on playing). The production allows for the quiet shuffling of feet and the echoing of piano keys, which adds to the intimacy.
'Moon Pix', Cat Power's 1998 album (the last album of original material, before 'The Covers Record'), has a dark smoke drenched feel to it. Yet **'You Are Free' is more like the morning after, when someone opens a window and lets the echoes of last nights party or heart break, flood out from the dank depths of a nightclub or basement, into the sunshine. There, the music dances around like a smile on a usually sad faced child, who just realised they are older, wiser and now allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.
But that's not to say this record is easy listening. Chan Marshall's lyrics bring melancholy, and challenge you at every turn.
"This is why I'm lying when I say I don't love you no more. This is why I want to be a good woman and I want you to be a good man"-good woman
Like a collection of children all from the same mother, each with their own distinctions (moles in different places, different coloured hair, etc) all fourteen songs from 'You are Free', have separate qualities to the next, but they're all layered with Marshall's whisky-spiked coffee flavoured vocals. Violins, guitars, dreamy piano, whichever way it comes, each song is paired down and simple.
Songs span from the strutting and supreme 'FREE', about people who see only the fame but not what is trying to be said, to 'Good Woman', which pangs with electric guitar as Marshall laments a love that can no longer go on despite not wanting it to ever end. Children's voices shadow the lead vocals, giving the song an innocent yet all knowing effect that is heart-breaking. 'Names' also gleams like a diamond edging out from the rough, as it takes us through a list of youngsters that misfortune has misplaced.
**_"her name was Cheryl
black hair like an electric space
she would pretty paint my face
she was a very good friend
her father would come to her in the night
she was 12 yrs old
she was 12 yrs old
she was 12 yrs old"_
I love this album, but what scares me is that there may not be anything else this year that I am going to fall in love with so easily and so unconditionally.
"Don't fall in love with the autograph, just fall in love everytime you scream that song on and on"-free
10Sara Lovejoy's Score