Indie-rock chanteuse Chan Marshall, who records under the name Cat Power, has sighed out a new CD. "The Covers Record" is so subdued and languishing, listening to it is like letting your mind wander while someone is talking to you under their breath. This is no exaggeration. Compared to Marshall, the Cowboy Junkies are upbeat revelers.
Accompanied by only her guitar or piano, Marshall takes songs by Moby Grape, the Velvet Underground, Nina Simone and others and wraps them around her finger like damp gauze. Her versions are full of gaps, undulating phrasings and little hurts, with the results being something like the shivering feeling you get when you lightly blow on a wound.
This is a mesmerizing record -- just see what she does with the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" -- although it leaves behind two nagging questions. First, does playing something extremely slow automatically make it very meaningful? And second, do we really need another version of "Sea of Love," ever?