Recommended TrackRuin, Manhattan, Nothin But Time
It’s been six years since Chan Marshall offered up any of her own compositions to the world and oh, what a six years it has been. She survived a breakdown, but saw her private life become so public that now even The Daily Mail knows her name. Still, she carried on. She cut her hair, turned 40, finished her record and called it ‘Sun’. You don’t have to look far to find proof of progression: her last offering ‘Jukebox’, was an insipid covers album in which her voice was buried and lost. ‘Sun’, on the other hand, is nothing but Cat Power, for Marshall wrote, played and recorded it entirely solo. The result is a record with transformation and catharsis seeping through every note. It only takes a few seconds to hear that this is no longer the Cat Power who belonged shoulder to shoulder with Elliott Smith and Bright Eyes as a precise articulator of pain and misery. Marshall kicks things off with ‘Cherokee’, a belter of a track boasting infectious hooks and a big chorus and that’s how ‘Sun’ continues, with the looping latin piano and pounding drums of ‘Ruin’ delving deeper into pop territory and further from the raspy heartbreak of her previous records. There’s even a direct nod to chart music in the form of a totally superfluous bit of autotuning on the title track, an incongruous experimentation with modern tech that’s in stark contrast to the untreated vocals on her earlier albums; truly, ‘Sun’ is a galaxy from the vulnerability of ‘Moon Pix’ and ‘You Are Free’. At its peak, ‘Sun’ reaches greatness, specifically with both ‘Manhattan’ and the 11-minute opus ‘Nothin’ But Time’ (featuring Iggy Pop), which count easily amongst some of the best material she’s ever penned. It’s good to have you back, Chan.