Published: August 31, 2012
Album Review: Cat Power– Sun
September 4, 2012
Chan Marshall knows when to take a break. While she spends half a decade rediscovering the things that make her great – we spend those years buying new Jack White albums and $7 salads from McDonalds. 99.9% of us have no idea what makes people like Chan Marshall become somebody like Chan Marshall. Six years removed from her last album of original material (not intentionally side-stepping over her stellar cover album Jukebox from 2008), Ms. Marshall has earned the right to spread her wings musically in any direction she wishes. Where artists paint themselves into a corner, Marshall takes a scissors to her previous landscape with each new release – and nothing sounding like we thought it would. The Greatest will probably go down as Cat Power’s Mona Lisa, or her Rumours at least. The best (yes I avoided the obvious pun) album in a catalog filled with thrilling eclecticism. The Greatest sounded like the type of album Cat Power could put out in 4 days. She could do it again in her sleep if she wanted. It was the type of album that Norah Jones couldn’t make but would die for – because well, Chan Marshall is Cat Power and Norah Jones, is well, just Norah Jones. Is there a more highly anticipated release in 2012 than Sun? Cat Power re-enters our lives at just the right time with a new mix of songs that are both challenging and shined with a layer of new optimism. A dark record this isn’t. Life would go on without her, but it’s a lot better with her. She reminds us at the perfect time that $10 for a great album is still the most wonderful $10 you can spend on the planet.
Beneath the troubles of her life is intense talent. That talent is the reason we can only listen to music and write about it, and the reason she oozes it. Discarding nearly every possible comparison to the wonderful The Greatest is not really daring – it’s actually expected and she pulls it off. Sounding like nothing close to anything else in my own extensive catalog of indie CD’s, this time Marshall goes electronic (a little) with the sexiness maintained – and dripping more and more of it as each song comes and goes. Her songs are like that blanket when you’re about 8 degrees too chilly at night and she’s also that cool pillow you reach for when it’s just a little too warm as you try to drift away. Her voice carries along effortlessly, sewing each song from one to the next. The type of voice that doesn’t make you reach for your mouse after track 4. She escapes any genre definition as if we’re chasing her on the back of a turtle while she’s revving up her corvette to evade any static title. Her music is dynamic yet solely her own. Tracks like the brilliant 11-minute ‘Nothin But Time’ are the new staples in the Cat Power catalog. ‘Time’s is one of those songs that you feel compelled to make your friends listen to whether they want to or not. What Marshall is, is pure fucking cool on a record that slides into her catalog like it’s been there for years – like the finest bottle of wine that you know will get better each year. Bubblegum indie this is not. An album that escapes away from filler, isn’t top loaded with the best songs and increases your blood pressure until the final moments of ‘Peace and Love’. There’s something thrilling and fulfilling about an album that peaks at the end and not the beginning. It turns into a 49 minute build-up instead of a 49 minute slow letdown. Marshall makes the listener appreciative that no one else is as good as she is because it’s so special coming from her – and often in her own twisted ways that compel us. While she fights the demons in her life from we eschew the demons in our record collection everytime we reach for her CD’s.