March 06, 2006 12:00 PM

The Greatest

REVIEWED BY CHRIS STRAUSS

FOLK-SOUL

“Once I wanted to be the greatest,” announces Chan Marshall, who records under the name Cat Power, at the beginning of her seventh CD. Then the singer-songwriter proceeds to deliver an emotional knockout worthy of Muhammad Ali in his prime. Recorded in Memphis with members of Al Green’s band, The Greatest trades in the lo-fi folk-rock of Marshall’s previous work for a ’70s soul vibe. One thing that remains, though, is her ability to rip out your heart. With her achingly beautiful voice and desolate lyrics, Marshall delivers the perfect rainyday companion. On the breakup ode “Empty Shell” she laments that “all that’s left is an empty shell of my heart that is crushed.” Such despair may not result in a terrific social life, but it certainly does make for a great record.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: “Empty Shell”

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