You Are Free

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You Are Free
Cat Power - You Are Free.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 18, 2003
GenreIndie rock
ProducerCat Power, Adam Kasper (engineer only)
Cat Power chronology
The Covers Record
You Are Free
The Greatest

You Are Free is the sixth studio album by Cat Power, the stage name and eponymous band of American singer-songwriter Chan Marshall. It was released in 2003 on Matador Records. The album features guest appearances by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three.


You Are Free was recorded over the course of a year, the longest Marshall had spent recording an album at that point. Marshall and engineer Adam Kasper recorded about 40 songs during these sessions. [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.[2]

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.[2]

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]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Chicago Sun-Times3/4 stars[5]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[6]
Mojo3/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
Uncut4/5 stars[13]

You Are Free, Marshall's first album of original material since the critically acclaimed Moon Pix (1998), has received widespread critical acclaim since its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 82, based on 26 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[3]

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."[10] 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."[4] 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."[9]

In 2009, Pitchfork placed the album at number 98 on their "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s" list.[14]

"Werewolf" is on the soundtrack of Pedro Almodóvar's 2009 film Broken Embraces.[15]

Commercial performance[edit]

You Are Free became Cat Power's first album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching number 105.[16] The album also debuted at number one 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums Chart.[17] As of 2007, You Are Free has sold over 163,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[18] The song "He War" was released as a single, and a music video for the song directed by Brett Vapnek was released.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Chan Marshall.

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 Hurley4:08
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'"John Lee Hooker3:51
14."Evolution" 4:44
Total length:53:07


  • Chan Marshall – vocals, guitars, piano
  • Warren Ellis – violin on "Good Woman"
  • Dave Grohl – bass on "Speak For Me", drums on "Speak For Me", "He War" and "Shaking Paper"
  • Eddie Vedder – vocals on "Good Woman" and "Evolution"
  • David Campbell – string arrangement on "Good Woman" and "Werewolf"
  • Maggie & Emma – vocals on "Good Woman"
  • Adam Kasper – recording, mixing
  • Rick Fisher – mastering
  • Mark Borthwick – photography


Chart (2003) Peak
French Albums (SNEP)[19] 67
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 157
US Billboard 200[16] 105
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[21] 2
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[22] 1


  1. ^ a b Goodman, Elizabeth (2009). Cat Power: A Good Woman. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-307-39636-5.
  2. ^ a b c Perez, Rodrigo (January 3, 2003). "Cat Power". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Reviews for You Are Free by Cat Power". Metacritic. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "You Are Free – Cat Power". AllMusic. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  5. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (March 2, 2003). "Cat Power, 'You Are Free' (Matador)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Browne, David (February 21, 2003). "You Are Free". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "Cat Power: You Are Free". Mojo (112): 102. March 2003.
  8. ^ Moody, Paul (February 15, 2003). "Cat Power: You Are Free". NME: 40.
  9. ^ a b Ott, Chris (February 18, 2003). "Cat Power: You Are Free". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (February 11, 2003). "You Are Free". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  11. ^ Sheffield, Rob (April 10, 2010). "Cat Power: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  12. ^ Gross, Joe (March 2003). "Cat Power: You Are Free". Spin. 19 (3): 120–21. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  13. ^ "Cat Power: You Are Free". Uncut (70): 101. March 2003.
  14. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 30, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 100–51". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  15. ^ "Broken Embraces: Soundtracks". IMDB. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Cat Power Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  17. ^ "Cat Power Summons Southern Soul On New CD". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. October 12, 2005. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  18. ^ Letkemann, Jessica (August 18, 2007). "Best Of Foo | Happy To Help: Cat Power". Billboard. 119 (33): 26. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  19. ^ " – Cat Power – You Are Free". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  20. ^ "Chart Log UK 1994–2008: Chris C. – CZR". Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  21. ^ "Cat Power Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  22. ^ "Cat Power Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 25, 2012.