You're never free, not really, not if you are Chan Marshall, otherwise known as Cat Power. Not if you're covered in the fragments of a shattered relationship; Marshall wants to be a "Good Woman," so she leaves her good man, who just happens to be Eddie Vedder. Not if you're a musician fed up with being a musician; "You were swinging your guitar around/'Cause they wanted to hear that sound/That you didn't want to play," she sings on "I Don't Blame You," and "you" and "I" both probably mean "her." Thing is, though, Marshall seems to know she'll never escape the unfortunate past or unforgiving present, and knowing that actually does help spring her from the joint: "We've got nothing to lose/We could all be free," she sings on "Maybe Not," in a voice that kind of hugs your heart. So she's in control like she hasn't been before, whether she's improbably urging listeners to "take a chance" on the dance floor ("Free," and the beat takes her advice) or extinguishing a former flame for good ("He War," with Dave Grohl playing his quietest drum licks since Nirvana's Unplugged appearance). Marshall might never be free, but maybe she likes it that way.
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