Cat Power: Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert
Cat Power—the moniker Chan Marshall has used for almost 30 years—is a musical chameleon. Not only are her solo LPs vast and varied, but she has also released three full albums of reimagined covers, shifting other peoples’ songs into brand new creations. That’s why her latest release, Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert is one of her more surprising moves. This live album, recorded in London last year, recreates one of Bob Dylan’s most famous concerts (yes, the iconic show when someone called Dylan “Judas” for switching from acoustic to electric guitar). There’s no radical reinvention of these 15 iconic tunes. Rather, Cat Power pays faithful homage to her idol, recreating one of his most legendary moments in a career full of them. And, maybe unsurprisingly, it totally works. At the core of this mirror-reflection are two unmistakable voices. During Dylan’s original 1966 concert, the folk hero was amping up to enter the world of rock-and-roll, and his voice howled and smoldered. That’s a great match for Cat Power, whose smoky, deep vocals explore every shadowy corner of these songs, adding the occasional flare and harmonizing with her source material. And she’s got some of the best source material in rock history. Cat Power’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” is a hushed, melancholy lullaby. Her “Like a Rolling Stone” is just as triumphant and rousing as you’d hope. “Just Like a Woman” is wounded and gorgeous. “Ballad of a Thin Man” is a bluesy dirge that puts Cat Power’s vocal grit front and center. Is this live album essential listening? Of course not, but for fans of either singer, it’s a love letter to some of the best songs of all time.