You Are Free

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You Are Free
Studio album by Cat Power
ReleasedFebruary 18, 2003
Recorded2002
GenreIndie rock
Length53:08
LabelMatador
ProducerAdam Kasper (engineer only)
Cat Power chronology
The Covers Record
(2000)
You Are Free
(2003)
The Greatest
(2006)
 
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You Are Free
Studio album by Cat Power
ReleasedFebruary 18, 2003
Recorded2002
GenreIndie rock
Length53:08
LabelMatador
ProducerAdam Kasper (engineer only)
Cat Power chronology
The Covers Record
(2000)
You Are Free
(2003)
The Greatest
(2006)

You Are Free is the sixth album by American singer/songwriter Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power. It was released in 2003 on Matador Records.

The album features guest appearances by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three.

Contents

Recording

According to Cat Power: A Good Woman by Elizabeth Goodman, You Are Free represents the longest Marshall had spent recording an album at that point. Marshall and engineer Adam Kasper recorded about 40 songs over the course of a year, of which 14 were included on the album. [1]

In a 2003 interview with Pitchfork, Marshall explained the album was recorded "Sporadically. While I was traveling...Adam was working on other things, and I worked on his schedule. He'd get these really nice studios, and when he had off time we'd go in and then try to remember what we did like two months ago and pull that tape up. I'd be like, 'Uh, no, I wanna do something new,' and then I'd write a new song. So it basically worked like that-- every few months getting together and essentially writing new songs." [2] According to Marshall, Kasper helped her decide which of the 40 songs they recorded should make it onto the album. [3]

Marshall revealed that she chose Kasper because "I was looking for somebody who would let me do what I wanted to do, who's a really good engineer," and said that she saw him as an engineer, rather than a producer. [4]

Numerous songs on the album are performed solo, with only Marshall on vocals and guitar or piano. Grohl plays drums on the songs "Speak For Me," "He War" and "Shaking Paper," and plays bass on "Shaking Paper." Vedder provides backing vocals on "Good Woman" and "Evolution," while Ellis plays violin on "Werewolf."

The songs "Good Woman" and "Werewolf" feature string arrangements by David Campbell, which were recorded after Marshall's vocals had been completed, at the Boat Studio in Los Angeles, California. [1]

Release

You Are Free became Cat Power's first charting album, reaching 105 on the Billboard 200. "The song "He War" was released as a single, and a music video for the song directed by Brett Vapnek was released.

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[5]
Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[6]
Drowned In Sound10/10 stars[7]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[8]
Mojo3/5 stars[9]
Pitchfork Media(8.9/10)[10]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[11]
Spin8/10 stars[12]
Uncut4/5 stars[13]
The Village Voice(positive)[14]

You Are Free was Marshall's first album of original material since the critically acclaimed Moon Pix (1998), and was met by strong reviews. Kelefa Sanneh of Rolling Stone wrote that "Free may be her most beautiful album, as well as her cagiest: There are gaunt rock songs and ramshackle ballads, all painted with bold, sure strokes that belie her ambivalence." [15] Heather Phares of Allmusic wrote that "You Are Free may take awhile longer than expected to unfold, but once it does, its excellence is undeniable." [16] Chris Ott of Pitchfork called it an album "full of arresting, serene beauty...Sans a handful of lesser inclusions and tributes, the imaginary, shorter version of You Are Free is flawless." [17]

In 2009 Pitchfork placed the album at number 98 on their "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s" list. [18]

Track listing

All tracks written by Chan Marshall except where noted.

  1. "I Don't Blame You" – 3:05
  2. "Free" – 3:34
  3. "Good Woman" – 3:58
  4. "Speak for Me" – 3:04
  5. "Werewolf" (Michael Hurley) – 4:08
  6. "Fool" – 3:49
  7. "He War" – 3:31
  8. "Shaking Paper" – 4:36
  9. "Babydoll" – 2:56
  10. "Maybe Not" – 4:19
  11. "Names" – 4:50
  12. "Half of You" – 2:42
  13. "Keep on Runnin' (Crawlin' Black Spider)" (John Lee Hooker) – 3:51
  14. "Evolution" – 4:44
  15. "The Party" (Japan bonus track) – 2:49

Musicians and contributors

Charts

Chart (2003)Peak
position
French Albums Chart[19]67
UK Albums Chart[20]157
US Billboard 200[21]105
US Heatseekers[21]1
US Independent Albums[21]2

Notes