Cat Power is probably my favorite contemporary female artist, and I think she has one of the best voices in modern music. It's this great meeting point between soulful, husky, subtle, delicate, ethereal, and imperfect, and she uses a nice mix of original material and covers to showcase it. I actually think her 2012 album, Sun, was her best yet, and its lead single, "Ruin," was my favorite song of that year.
But the song that first made me love Cat Power was this one. I didn't hear it when it came out, and it wasn't until my original Music Sensei, Kevin Groom, put it on a mix CD for me in 2004 that I was finally introduced to her. But ten years later, this is absolutely in my pantheon of 5-10 favorite covers ever. I'm a big believer that great covers have to alter the original in some fundamental way that puts a new artistic stamp on it, and this certainly does that. Not only does Cat Power strip the song down to just vocals and spare single guitar, but she also makes the fascinating choice of only singing the verses and never going into the chorus, which almost adds this mysterious, secretive element to the recording. A lot of people that hear the song for the first time know they know it, but have trouble placing it. I just love the way she stretches out the lyric "baby, baby, baby, come back," which sounds even more desperate and pleading than Jagger's original vocal. Great stuff.
This was originally written and posted on Facebook on May 24, 2014
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