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February 07, 2006 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-07

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 7, 2006 - 9

Singer
Splays
withisoul
legends
By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Music Editor
With the recent passing of Wilson
Pickett, the world is minus one more
legitimate soul
legendwith seem- Cat Power
ingly no others The Greatest
in development. T atest
What happened Matador
to this once-glori-
ous genre? Where is my Sam Cooke,
my Al Green, my Otis Redding? Who
the fuck decided horn sections weren't
cool anymore? Who the fuck decided
Juelz Santana would produce as many
hits as Willie Mitchell? Bobby and
Whitney are no Ike and Tina, and
Ja Rule and Ashanti are sure as hell
no Marvin and Tammi. Simply Nno
amount of crunk juice will turn Ame-
rie into Aretha.
Make no mistake, Stax would've
never signed Chan Marshall, and
The Greatest isn't the revival of
modern soul. With this album, Mar-
shall famously returns to her South-
ern roots, flaunting her heritage
more prominently than on any album
since 1998's Moon Pix. Unfortunate-
ly, recording with the cats respon-
sible for I'm Still In Love With You
doesn't make this Let's Stay Togeth-
er. Instead, Marshall's bare mus-
ings take center stage, while Mabon
"Teenie" Hodges, Leroy "Flick"
Hodges and Steve Potts and other
Memphis s'ession musicians lend a
rich backdrop that's soulful, but not
necessarily soul.
The shimmering Hammond B-3,
the slightly overdriven rhythm gui-
tar, the divine bursts of trumpet, the
funky 4/4 - they all add immeasur-
ably to the many melodies that have
always been buried in Marshall's
damaged compositions. Their tri-
umph is finally finding the appro-
priate aura for Marshall's peculiar
milieu without transforming her into
something she's not. She's still as
intimate and introspective as ever.
Still, a little gospel goes a long way
in the reverence department. That
newfound sense was sorely lacking
in her past efforts, perhaps explain-
ing why those that did identify with

Jenny Lewis finally goes solo

By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC RFVIEw
Late at night in Los Angeles, in twang-
pop collective Rilo Kiley's swanky tour

bus bunks, Jenny
Lewis sits, quietly
humming her ulti-
mately personal
tales of the road,
shaggy-haired boys,
religion and child-
hood. So personal,

Jenny Lewis
with the
Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat
Team Love

Courtesy of Mataaor

Cat Power: redefining hot and crazy since the mid-'90s.

her frank earnestness responded so
passionately and those who were
unable to get through the sparse
arrangements and half-mouthed lyr-
ics were left labeling Marshall as
Fiona Apple lite.
For the Hodges and crew, the bur-
den of breathing joy into Marshall's
laments is immensely lighter on
tunes like the sublime "Could We."
The song, a sun-drenched slice of
soul straight out of the Hi-Records
handbook, captures the nervous
energy of a first date, and leaves
Marshall sounding more confident
and sexy than ever.
"Could We" buoys the mood next
to the gravity of "Empty Shell,"
while "Living Proof" empowers
Marshall to declare herself The
Greatest without irony. Then the
whistling outro to "After It All"
fades and the dark, syncopated stabs

of Marshall's guitar usher in "Hate,"
and suddenly every diehard Cat
Power fan is acquiesced.
"Hate" is the hinge The Greatest
swings on. Longtime fans will find
the naked, angry cries of "I hate
myself and want to die" more in
line with their expectations from a
Cat Power record. But Marshall con-
fronts that notion with a brush-off:
"Do you believe she said that? / Do
you believe she said that? / I said, 'I
hate myself and I want to die.' "
This is what soul music can do
- break your heart with beauty.
There's more sadness in Otis Red-
ding's Dictionary of Soul than The
Downward Spiral, made more pro-
found when highlighted with tons of
joy. The Greatest is an achievement
of that magnitude on a smaller scale;
now we just need D'Angelo to write
the next What's Going On.4

in fact, that Jenny set aside this batch of
sparse, midnight tunes for her own solo
venture. Think of it as Jenny time.
She, coupled with the help of Ken-
tucky-born folk sisters The Watson
Twins and her A-list indie-world
friends, bred Rabbit Fur Coat, the
official solo offering from Kiley's
much-adored lead woman. Don't
cry, dear Kiley enthusiasts: No one's
breaking up. Fur Coat is simply the
fulfillment of a hankering. It's a decid-
edly predictable move, especially for
someone like Lewis, the poster girl for
contemporary indie pop.
She's already had three moderately
successful albums with the band that's
closest to her heart, but remember, it's

Jenny time. How else can she explore
her creativity but through publish-
ing those songs she penned when she
was frustrated from being surrounded
by smelly boys for half a year on the
road? Or the ones where she recalls
her mother's strange wardrobe ("Rab-
bit Fur Coat") or muses on abstract
activism ("Rise Up With Fists").
She's emotionally vulnerable, all
right, but with her first solo effort,
Lewis offers more insightful lyricism
and toe-tapping countrified pop to cre-
ate an honest and impressive body of
music. Fur Coat ultimately cements
Lewis's spot as one of the great female-
pop powerhouses (think Neko Case)
and illuminates her future as a song-
writer, collaborator and performer.
Listen to "Big Guns," and imagine
Lewis in a dusty and smoky Southern
bar, clad in worn cowboy boots and
singing her heart out with thumbs
hooked into belt loops. This isthe
kind of ambiance Fur Coat exhibits,
and even those turned off by what
might be considered a contemporary
country tune will surely be attract-
ed to Lewis's intelligent voice and
impeccable arrangements.
"Handle With Care" is modern
fashioning of the classic Travel-
ling Wilbury's tune, only this time,

George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy
Orbison are replaced by indie super-
heroes Ben Gibbard, Conor Oberst
and M. Ward. Sacrilege? Maybe so,
but this who's who of Seth Cohen-
worshipping indie darlings is actu-
ally pretty damn catchy. The album
flows well, only really slowing with
lengthy, down-tempo tunes like "Born
Secular." Even then, though, Lewis
and the Watson Twins still manage to
keep the listener at bay with snarky
musings on religion. With Bright
Eyes putting up the money for the
album, Lewis and the Watson Twins
are primed to present this delightful
little album to a mass of eager devo-
tees. But then again, she doesn't real-
ly need any help. It's Jenny time.

Rapper
Vito Polizzi

The Department of Communication Studies
presents a Howard R. Marsh lecture on
Democracy and the Media

February 7, 2006
At
The Blind Pig
208 S. First S
Ann Arb(
Doors open at 9:30 pr

t.
or
m

F -

Wednesday, February 8, 2006, 7:30 pm
Tackham Amphitheatre, The University of Michigan
i book signing follows the lecture, sponsored by Nicola's Books.

You must be 18 years old to attend
For more Info: 734.996.8008

Contact the Department of Communication Studies
(734-764-0423) for more information.

I

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RESUME DROP REMINDER
Engineering School:
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Please apply online through your career services website.
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