Cat Power’s Sun warms like morning light
Victoria Mietchen gets blindfolded by Cat Power:
Chan Marshall delights in obscurity, but she is one of few artists who can get away with it – and I am always more than happy to be blindfolded and let into the world of her sounds, ardent imagery and strange prose.
Sun, however, feels entirely different to her previous efforts. Most would know her smoke‐tinged vocals riding somber lyrics, whereas with this album, there’s a sense Cat has found some fire to fixate on – behind her, history burns, and while the music has grown more robust and found some complexity in exploring lighter spaces, there’s no mistaking the darker notions within her music; however, she does not dwell in the discomfort here. Opener Cherokee is wanton with loss, but promises blazing blue sky – interspersed at one point with a eagle’s cry and a woman wanderer beneath, finding connection to the world around her in the failure of a human bond. There’s a gentle insistence, a searching. Here’s an album of a woman who swaggers across a room and can take it down in but a glance. She doesn’t know everything just yet, but her whiskey‐stained chants hold riddles promising to reward anyone who’s really listening; the self‐assurance she’s assuring us of is believable – she sounds like she’s lived what she sings, and it’s one of her qualities as an artist that sets her apart. It’s sometimes painfully beautiful, what she manages to produce, with her sparse notes, dry delivery and grey words. She’ll give you the chills, in the most sublime way. What she does not say directly, the music articulates instead.
Still, this is a journey’s album, a gypsy’s whispers, chronicling a voyage that is reminiscent at times of You are Free and its sadder hymns, but with a conviction that cannot be manufactured, only garnered through experience. Playfully experimental with Sun, allowing electronica to influence some of its angles, this album still holds the essence any Cat Power fan can attest to her brand of sonic witchery. An album that warms like morning light on cold skin but latent with Marshall’s nightmares and hard lessons from the road.
Sun is for lying in a field and contemplating the moon, the algorithms in the stars or on your bedroom floor, contemplating how far you have come. It’s a companion album, one to grow old with and likewise, one that will grow on you. It is one that will introduce a new audience to the singer’s charms, hauntingly beautiful sounds, quirky storytelling, and the unflinchingly truthful lessons within each tale. It’s well worth the trip. Who knows what you too may find?
Review by Victoria Mietchen, currently at work on her first novel, a western.