As a huge fan of Chan's earlier, harsher lo-fi albums and a big fan of everything else she's produced, i was pretty shocked and... disappointed i guess... with "The Greatest", initially rejecting it ("This isn't Cat Power" i had said to a friend at the time) despite listening to it over and over.
I've now had 12months to get my head around it though and ye know what? It turns out it's pretty damn good.
At first i took it very much as "Cat Power goes to Memphis" (i've no idea how many times i've seen that written now but it's a fair description), unsure of an entire band backing little Miss Marshall, but having taken time to separate the album from her others i've come to really appreciate it.
Stand-out tracks for me are "The Greatest" (undeniably beautiful), "Living Proof" and the persistent "Love and Communication" (including a discordant guitar near the beginning harking back to those early days... - this is my favourite track on the album).
Great joy also comes from fully band-backed recordings of "The Moon", "Willie" and "Islands" after hearing early Chan-and-a-guitar versions on the "Speaking for Trees" DVD/CD.
The extra track on this edition is nice, but i'm generally not a fan of bonus tracks of any sort. An album is an album. If a track isn't on the original playlist then there's a reason for that and it shouldn't be shoved in. But hey.
It's taken a year for me to fully accept this album and i still don't like to give it 4 stars, just for the reason that i feel i'm betraying my love for her earlier work, but "The Greatest" really does deserve it.
Soulful, beautiful, at times fun, at times pretty dark.
(a solo album next time would be great though)