CD: Cat Power - Sun | reviews, news & interviews
CD: Cat Power - Sun
CD: Cat Power - Sun
Chan Marshall bounces back with her most sonically ambitious album to date
You’ll know by now, perhaps, that Sun is supposed to represent a “rebirth” for Chan Marshall, the famously intense singer-songwriter who performs as Cat Power. Since the release of 2006’s The Greatest Marshall has shunned her own material, instead reinterpreting Memphis soul and Delta blues in a sensual, dusky croon. When your songs are as personal, as taut and extreme as some of Marshall’s work can be, however, there must be times it pays to take a step back.
It may sound as if I’m trying to say that Sun is one of those albums is difficult to listen to, but it’s not like that at all. It’s many things - sonically challenging, wildly ambitious, sprawling, experimental and possessed of an Iggy Pop guest vocal on a track that hits eleven minutes in length - but never difficult. A combination of bass drum, swirling synth and vocals that sit so low in the mix that snippets, rather than full lyrics, emerge like snatches of overheard conversation; it creates an overall effect that at times verges on the euphoric.
The circumstances surrounding Marshall’s break - substance abuse problems, rehabilitation, the quiet serenity of a long-term relationship that suddenly imploded - have been publicised enough to colour some of those snippets despite the listener’s best intentions which is why the album’s very first couplets, on “Cherokee” (“I never knew love like this ... I never knew pain like this”) prove misleading. Sun is not about surrender, but about control. By writing, performing, recording and producing the album in its entirety Marshall has crafted a statement of intent that is no less honest for its tightness and strength.
The most surprising thing? You can dance to it. Not all of it, and probably not in a way that’s going to win you any prizes, but there is something so powerful and freeing about the statements on the title track, “3, 6, 9” and “Real Life” that you won’t be able to help yourself. On her travels, Marshall has learned that it’s up to the individual to be her own superhero - and perhaps that’s the most important message of all.
Listen to "Ruin" by Cat Power
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