Cat Power is one of those artists you feel compelled to adore, obliged to love, regardless of whether you’re devoted to any of her albums in particular. The music is heart wrenchingly honest and soulful, there’s no denying it. To see Chan Marshall play live only serves testament to what I’m saying, she gives you the world.
It doesn’t seem at any point that she’s conscious of her role as performer. She’s up there expressing her inner most demons/angels, and well, you just happen to be there too. With that in mind, Cat Power has carved out a musical altar of sorts, upon which many, many devotees worship.
Sun is Cat Power’s first album of original material for over 6 years. Living up to the sheer beauty of her last, The Greatest, was always going to be some task. And although there are moments on Sun which shine as bright, for the most part, a lot of the tracks feel oddly rushed, sped forward with a sense of agitation.As a result, the album as a whole feels incomplete. Ruin, the first single to be lifted from the album is undoubtedly one of the strongest, with that Cat Power shuffle, lyrics that engage and hypnotize. It’s easy to feel connected to the song as it harps back to a more familiar sound, whereas for a lot of the record, we’re left with a crooked sonic shift. That is, not entirely refocused, but only partially.
Drum machines and vocal manipulations are not characteristics one associates with Cat Power, and that’s no sin in itself, as some of the greatest records possess the greatest sonic shifts. However, when the songs themselves aren’t verging on greatness, things get a little stuck, as well as compromising that extraordinary smokiness that makes her so Goddam special.
Like any revered artist, Chan Marshall will always have her followers and forgivers. Sun is not her strongest album to date, however, her flame remains one so unique and truthful that it somehow fails to matter.