Cat Power

Free

Composed by Chan Marshall

Song Review by

”Free” is probably the closest Cat Power a.k.a. Chan Marshall, will ever come to making a New Wave rock number. That’s not to say that the song doesn’t carry this Sadcore queen’s trademark tension soaked, ambient reserve. At the same time, the overall sentiment that flows through ”Free”, seems oddly incongruous with her image as a brooding singer/songwriter, calling for everyone to be loose and get happy in the very opening lines, “Everybody come together / Free / Everybody get together / It’s okay if you can’t stand to let her dance / It’s okay, it’s your right / Come on take a chance / A true romance when you dance” The clipped guitar chords, percussive screech of the strings as she makes sliding chord changes and a stiff old-school drum machine give the track it’s nervous energy. The jagged intensity steadily increases as the recording progresses, tight distorted guitar chords play in counter rhythm to the acoustic guitars and light melodic notes weave in and out of a pulsing bass drum rhythm. The arrangement doesn’t alter much in a verse/ chorus sense; relying on the addition and subtraction of instruments from the mix to provide dynamics. Marshall appears to be attacking the shallow nature of the personality driven music industry as well, imploring her audience, “Don’t be in love with the autograph / Just be in love when you scream that song / All night long” which seems more in line with this painfully shy artist’s reticent world view. Perhaps it’s a challenge to herself, a reminder not to get caught up in the trappings of fame and to continue to mature as an artist, strictly on her own terms. Something she has managed to do so far with admirable success.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
You Are Free 2003 Matador
Matador at Fifteen 2004
Various Artists
Matador 3:32
Girls, Vol. 2: All Adventurous Women Do... 2014
Original TV Soundtrack
Atlantic 4:02
Radioactive: Mainsream Rock Series (October 2003)
Various Artists
X-Mix
blue highlight denotes editor's pick