Last week I managed to get a sneaky copy of the first great album of 2006 - 'The Greatest' by Cat Power. For anyone who doesn't know, Cat Power is Atlanta native, New York resident Chan Marshall, who does a nice line in stripped down guitar and piano indie pop. Only this time she's gone all soul on our asses. Like Dusty Springfield and many others, Chan has headed down to Memphis to get an injection of soul power into her music, from the old session boys in the Memphis Rhythm Band (including Al Green cohort Teenie Hodges on guitar).
And like Dusty before her, she's a white girl without a classic soul belter voice, who simply sticks to her breathy vocal style and benefits from the depth of musical experience round her. And what a result! I mean, her previous albums were good, but this one takes it to the next level. The arrangements are superb and there's a depth of soulfulness that will exceed most other records that will be released this year. And it's not just the soul that you'd associate with Memphis - there's also some of the country that you'd associate with Nashville, three hours or so down the road.
From gorgeous piano ballads like 'Where is my love' to the parping horns of the almost danceable 'Could we', it all combines to a beautiful whole. The pick of the bunch has to be the title track, starting off like 'Moon River' and with the most heartbreaking lyrics about broken dreams, it's a little masterpiece. And if you haven't heard it yet, do yourself a favour and get over to the Matador website and download it!