Chan Marshall has always been a wandering spirit. With her releases moving from sparse solo enquiries through to fleshed out Southern soul engagements, she’s difficult to predict but impossible to shrug off.
‘Wanderer’ ventures to pastures old and new, with Chan said to be “going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale”. Opening with the gorgeous title track – a rural hymnal, a divine choral piece – ‘In Your Face’ tinkles with twilight piano notes, a kind of feminine counterpart to Tom Waits’ tragic caricatures. Lana Del Rey offers hushed accompaniment on ‘Woman’, while ‘Nothing Really Matters’ seems to flit between resignation and optimism, the starkness of Chan Marshall’s lyricism remaining beautifully oblique.
Beautifully produced by the songwriter herself, ‘Wanderer’ is an ode to Americana’s dusty dead roads, its rusted down vehicles and the flickering lights of long-forgotten barrooms. Uniquely affecting, it’s a showcase for Cat Power’s legacy, and its continued vitality. ‘You Get’ is an effortlessly cool Stones rocker, while ‘Robbin Hood’ harks back to the haunting emptiness of early album ‘Moon Pix’.
An observing eye, everywhere the spirit of Chan Marshall lingers, on a textured, fascinating album, one that feels as though you have been let loose in an endless hall of mirrors.
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