Cat Power celebrates the great blues tradition of transience on her first album in six years Wanderer. It was written over the course of a couple years during which she toured, and travelled, and played. Folk and blues are fundamentally collaborative genres and Wanderer is no different, featuring old friends, and a tour mate in Lana Del Rey.
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I was just re-reading my review of Cat Power's last album 'Sun' which I concluded with "on this evidence, she should not be allowed anywhere near the producers chair again". Well she's ignored my advice and is back producing her records herself but luckily this time she leaves off the whistles and bells that made that such a cluttered affair.
We all know the talent, we all know that voice but whether she likes it or not a lot of Chan Marshall's career has been spent if not squandering her talent but burnishing it somehow, whether that be by reckless live shows or becoming too much of a Dido- friendly commercial artist with 'The Greatest'. Seems she can't get it right ...well she already has on the superb 'Moon Pix' but that was a long time ago and Cat Power was a very different entity back then. 'Wanderer' could then be the album in which all the loose ends are tied up and she releases an album that does full justice to her talents.
First up it's beautifully (and simply) produced. There's loads of space for her thick rounded voice to work without being bothered by unneccesary embellishments. And what a voice it is. It stuns here. So close to your ears if listening on headphones. Ok so the great bits come early on. 'In Your Face' and 'You Get' are both exactly what I like about Cat Power. Simple guitar chords going round and round and that expressive voice circling around itself. I'm not massively keen on the Lana Del Ray assisted single 'Woman' though listening on 6 Music it stands out like a diamond on a slug. She spends the remainder of the record using a variety of styles - part singing in French on 'Black', coming on all Amy Winehouse on 'Stay' but always doing it in a simple hushed manner that says more the less it reveals.
It's a good album. Possibly lacking the wrecked atmospheres that made Moon Pix so great but it distills Marshall's talent down to a hushed reverie, an intimate portrait of what she can do and it's as much as if not more than we have every right to expect. Definitely a reminder as to why she is so cherished.
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- Wanderer by Cat Power
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