It’s brutally unfair. We have been enjoying the fruits of Chan Marshall’s woe for nearly two decades now, and it has been anything but a symbiotic relationship. Plagued by family turbulence, substance abuse and a slew of highly publicized breakups, indie darling Marshall — known musically as Cat Power — has brought on the sorrow without falter. And it has been deeply selfish of us.
Guilt aside, it would appear that the seasons are shifting for Marshall. Sun, the famously mercurial artist’s first album in over five years, is a completely unexpected departure in both sound and sentiment. Ditching the acoustic guitar in favor of synthesizers and drum machines, these 11 songs are infused with a sense of lightness otherwise unknown in her work. Taking up a high-paced pop vibe, Cat Power still croons and wilts, but she also — dare I say — comes close to rapping in parts of the album.
If her old pieces were black and white — just a guitar and that unjustly evocative Marshall rasp — her new pieces are shades of grey, works of Pollock. An artist who has slammed between highs and lows for the past twenty years is finally forgiving her past and coming to terms with what lies between the extremes. As the artist sings, “Sometimes you gotta do what you don’t wanna do / to get away with an unordinary life.”
“Must be the colors and the kids that keep me alive cause the music is boring me to death,” Cat Power sang in 1998’s Moon Pix. Now, Sun is no Moon Pix, it is a horse of an entirely different color. And we can only be glad that Marshall got bored, as for the first time in years it would appear that Cat Power has got a whole new dawn to live through. A figurative nine musical lives still to go.
— Hannah Levy
Contact Hannah at [email protected]