Jukebox is Chan Marshall's second album of covers, and given all the semi-ridiculous presumptions regarding her emotional stability, like the notion that she's perpetually perched on the lip of a colossal breakdown, it isn't too hard to guess why she might be preternaturally drawn to other people's songs. Still, she's awfully good at imbuing her work with mixed longing and detachment, which is clear even when the melodies aren't her own.
With the help of the Dirty Delta Blues Band, featuring Jim White of the Dirty Three on drums and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Judah Bauer on guitar, Marshall re-interprets tracks from Frank Sinatra, George Jackson, Billie Holiday, James Brown, and more: Her gender-twisted take on Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" (now "Ramblin' (Wo)man") is boozy and warm, musically distinct from Williams' twangy, acoustic lament, but no less desperate. Her version of Janis Joplin's "Woman Left Lonely" occasionally veers toward schmaltz, but it's saved by rich piano and a few well-placed growls. "Song To Bobby," the record's only new original, is an homage to Bob Dylan, evoking him literally ("Backstage pass in my hand / Giving you my heart was my plan") and stylistically. Fervent Dylan-fawning is common enough (Marshall first covered him in 2000, and takes on "I Believe In You" here), but "Song To Bobby" is teeming with total devotion, meaning it also makes a pretty convincing love song. Ultimately, Marshall's knack for rearranging and her adulation for the artists at hand make Jukebox almost as compelling as an original confession.