A robust, respectable detour
Cat Power - Sun

Despite neurosis , breakdowns, breakups and boozing, the seductively toned Chan Marshall has released eight incredibly disparate studio albums; she’s as prolific as she is unpredictable. With ‘Sun’ she’s moved on quite a way from the sultry covers, bluesy reflections and work with myriad collaborators to produce an entirely self-written and performed album.

Recorded after a difficult break-up with long-time partner, the actor Giovanni Riblisi, she retreated to France, shed her reliance on working with others along with her luxurious hair and returned shorn but stronger to complete the album in her self-built Malibu studio. There’s a lightness and honesty in these compositions, despite their often busy arrangements. It’s tightly controlled, in some ways perhaps overly polished and nowhere near as raw as her previous work, but one can appreciate such need for control. There are some delicious vocals, at their strongest when delivered in her lowest breathless register, but there are also a few ill-advised vocoder moments.

First single ‘Ruin’ is surprisingly buoyant, with its great big burst of sunshine-soaked salsa piano and sparkling percussion bolstered by juicy bass. Many of the songs have a slightly ’80s air, with jangly guitars and perky piano, and because of this there’s sometimes a difficulty in discerning individual tracks. ‘Sun’ is a particular highlight however, and ‘Cherokee’ has some impeccable drumming towards the end.

Overall it’s a robust, respectable detour but will leave some fans pining for the smoky chanteuse of old.




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