Cat Power’s music is ravishingly abstract. Marshall’s famous voice is at once disaffected and melodramatic, the instrumentation spare, the effect like strong weather for the psyche. Als’ piece seems to aspire to the same enigmatically profound condition. The problem is that Marshall is an artist, while Als is merely a critic-and not a very good one, either. After drawing out Cat Power’s classic blues roots in a reasonable enough middle section, he staggers from one undercooked metaphor to another, calling Marshall in the space of one column a cowboy, a preacher, and “a fluid version of Liberty standing guard over the Harbor.” To all of which, and much more, I can only say, “Huh?”
(It’s the August 14 entry; scroll down to the second item.)
* Apologies for the original misattribution.