Rating: 8 (out of 10)
Matador Records | 2006
Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve got to hand it to Chan Marshall. It takes balls to call any album that isnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t your greatest hits album The Greatest (and this being her seventh album, she could have done it). It doesnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t matter how good you think itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s going to be. Claiming to be the greatest is a boast like no other (unless youï¿½ï¿½ï¿½re Kanye West). Of course, if you think that Chan Marshall is purporting that her album is actually the greatest, well, you donï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t know Chan Marshall.From the second you lay eyes on the album cover, you should know that The Greatest is actually not claiming anything of the sort. The cover, all pink and shiny with a holographic finish, features a ghetto gold chain with gold boxing gloves hanging from it. Letï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s face it, the cover looks more like the cover art for the Britney Spears/K-Fed vanity project than the cover art for a Cat Power album.
The Greatest is a beautiful album full of sweet soul. Recorded in Tennessee with some of Al Greenï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s old collaborators, it definitely calls to mind old school soul without completely departing from the signature sound of Cat Power. Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s the kind of album that is well suited for a rainy day. Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s the kind of album that makes you want to walk into a dark bar, order a glass of bourbon, light up a cigarette and walk on over the juke box and fire up one of these 13 songs.
It took a while for me to take a shine to this album, mostly because itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s the kind of album that the younger and more depressed college aged me would have loved instantly. Thatï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s not to say that this album is at all juvenile. Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s full of the knowledge of having loved and lost. Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s full of lament, sadness, rejection, and loneliness (it even has a little bit of fun thrown in there with ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The Islandsï¿½ï¿½ï¿½). Chan Marshallï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s voice is gorgeous and strong on every song of the album. She almost sounds like a cross between Beth Orton and Fiona Apple ï¿½Ä¶ almost. Some album highlights include the title tracks, ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The Greatest,ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Lived in Bars,ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The Moon,ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ and ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Where is My Love.ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
But honestly, itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s not each individual song, as much as the album as a whole that is so captivating. The Greatest like a comforting old friend that you can take out and put on when the right mood strikes you (or the wrong mood). Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s not an every day album, but it can definitely be a though the years album. An album that you may not need all that often, but when you do need it, to let you know its there for you and that hey, it could always be worse, but more than that, we all go through tough times and we just might get through them too.