It's easy to dismiss Cat Power's covers-CD Jukebox as a record company's lazy way of dealing with its artist's latest bout of writer's block. But any indie-rock hipster can tell you that head kitty Chan Marshall stuffs her live shows with other people's songs. Anyway, she's done this sorta thing before, back on 2000's Covers Record. Besides, Marshall can transform any tune into a soulful slab of delicate beauty. Her voice is that mesmerizing.
Jukebox moves fluently between moody blues and smoky jazz, channeling Joni Mitchell's classic Blue the entire way. Aside from the curious opener, "New York, New York" (checking in with its one-millionth rendition), the album is quintessential Sunday-morning, coffee-sipping music. Highlights include the Highwaymen's "Silver Stallion" and Bob Dylan's "I Believe in You," which strips Marshall's recent foray into horn-speckled R&B on 2006's The Greatest to its folkiest core. Two original compositions — "Metal Heart" and "Song to Bobby" — fit right into the set. But they're also a reminder that, while Jukebox makes a solid addition to the Cat Power catalog, Marshall is at her best singing her own songs.