You Are Free

  • Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Feb 18, 2003

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. You Are Free may take awhile longer than expected to unfold, but once it does, its excellence is undeniable.
  2. Marshall has a voice as distinctive and enchanting as Billie Holiday, capable of summoning the same emotions in the listener -- awe, lust, bewilderment, a burning desire to reach out and shelter the delicacy of it from all the crude harshness of the world.
  3. One of the best albums you'll hear in 2003.
  4. You Are Free almost has two disparate styles, and that would be the criticism here. Yet that's the result of her particular mania: stand up, shout then quickly retreat to your seat and hide your face.
  5. 100
    Melodically exquisite, this is a triumph of minimalism.
  6. Entertainment Weekly
    When Dave Grohl's scruffy drumming enters, themusic finally lives up to the second half of her stage name. [21 Feb 2003, p.150]
  7. Two or three too many songs dilute the impact of the album, dragging it from the lofty heights of masterwork to a level of mere disturbed brilliance.
  8. The album's last third slows to the glacial pace of 2001's Covers Record with underdeveloped song fragments rendered in a numbing, spare style. But the album's first half more than makes up for it with Marshall's inimitably concise songwriting painting roses on demons and frowning children alike.
  9. She's probably an EP artist at heart. Or someone for whom the 20-minute sides of vinyl would discipline everything perfectly. So slice the CD in half and enjoy.
  10. Mojo
    With You Are Free it feels like she's reached some kind of accomodation between a celebration of her vocal gift and a context within with she can happily offer it to everyone else. [Mar 2003, p.102]
  11. You aren't free after all, because once you've let the album in, you may never shake it off again.
  12. This mixture of revealing honesty and defiant self-confidence pervades the majority of You Are Free, an affecting and unforced 14-track album that stands as arguably her most diverse and rewarding effort to date.
  13. You Are Free is full of arresting, serene beauty, but as an album-- as that quantifiable object-- it has composite failings. Sans a handful of lesser inclusions and tributes, the imaginary, shorter version of You Are Free is flawless.
  14. Mostly, it's Chan's wonderfully bold and understated piano and guitar work that makes 'You Are Free' what it is, a collection of shapely and becoming lo-fi oddities.
  15. Q Magazine
    It's not exactly a party, but Marshall's songwriting and cooing delivery remain fierce and otherly, redolent of romantic encounters in strange wood cabins. [Mar 2003, p.114]
  16. 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.
  17. An evocative composite of soulful melodies, with stripped-down piano and hushed guitar-and-vocal ballads.
  18. Spin
    The guest cast's presence never infringes on the album's overcast beauty. [March 2003, p.120]
  19. Recorded with an ear for detail but guided by a loose hand, this is the most open, welcoming Cat Power album yet.
  20. A polished, carefully crafted set of beautiful, intense songs that lay bare the singer’s heart as honestly and effectively as anything she’s attempted before.
  21. Rarely breaking from a single, unrelenting mood, Free has a tendency to repeat itself: It could stand to be broken up by more uptempo tracks like "He War," particularly since Marshall does well with them.
  22. The Wire
    What the album lacks in innovation, it more than makes up for with its sheer edginess. [#228, p.59]
  23. Uncut
    Sparse yet graceful, these 14 songs of love and loss interpret wispy folk and slow-burning country via brittle, lo-fi angularity. [Mar 2003, p.100]
  24. You Are Free demonstrates a subtle, hopeful change in sentiment--a relief from Cat Power's melancholy.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Mar 29, 2016
    Cat Power's music isn't big and bold and in-your-face. It's unassuming, slow, and restrained. There aren't that many hooks or memorableCat Power's music isn't big and bold and in-your-face. It's unassuming, slow, and restrained. There aren't that many hooks or memorable choruses, but somehow I find myself coming back to her music every once in a while, especially You Are Free. It's calming and introspective, the perfect album to play while studying or just relaxing. What I like most about this album is how consistent it is. There really aren't any straight up bad songs on here, although there are a few standouts. It would be nice if Cat Power did more upbeat songs like He War, but nevertheless, this is still a very solid, quality album. I'll definitely be returning to it a lot more in the future. Full Review »
  2. Nov 20, 2013
    Since I'm writing this in 2013, I can understand how people are very positive toward this album. While this is a very incredible set, ISince I'm writing this in 2013, I can understand how people are very positive toward this album. While this is a very incredible set, I personally find 2006's "The Greatest" or 2008's "Jukebox" better. Though this album still rocks my world until today. If someone was asking the question "which one album would you take with you if you can only have one for the rest of your life?", this would make choosing very hard for me. Of course, the competition is mostly Marshall's other albums. I'm a huge fan! Full Review »
  3. JorgeR
    Apr 11, 2007
    I dont have the album, but I have heard all the songs and thay are great. Im in love with that girl. Chan I love you!!!!!