It’s been six years since Cat Power gave fans a new album, and in that time Chan Marshall has switched labels, and her latest just dropped. Being a fan means that you’re the last person who should get asked about an artist, because you’ll almost certainly excuse whatever they do. We’ve been fans of Cat Power since the earlier records like Moon Pix, but with the recently released Wanderer, we can’t seem to find the sweet spot in getting into it.
It should be noted, that lyrically this album is glorious. Maybe that’s the fan in us, but Marshall has always found a way to get her words to hit with the heaviest of intentions, and they do so all over this record. Lyrics like “Oh, the reason I hold on/Oh cause’ I need this hole gone,” or even the heavier handed words like “In the age of the military/you are engaged with such fanfare activity.” The words hit with precision and heft, just as we’ve all come to expect.
The album tends to meander around, never really finding a landing spot, and whispering to itself without reaching its highest points. No, the trouble comes from the music-where sometimes the songs feel like they don’t have a beginning, a middle, or an end-at others it feels like they never really began at all.
There are however four great tracks on this record that are definitely noteworthy. “You Get” gives any fan the slow burn that Marshall has always exceeded at. The song takes its time to rise to the flame, and that’s okay because that’s what we’ve come to expect from Marshall. The second track that works and works very well, is “Woman (feat. Lana Del Rey).” Marshall is hitting hard here and with Del Rey in tow, the song has a weight that works on many levels without steering too far from what Cat Power has done in the past.
“Horizon” has this intriguing bluesy almost Beatles sound that slowly upticks while Marshall, complete with doubled vocals sings into the night. There’s a sense of protection with the track that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the album, making it one of the ones you can’t deny the power of. The subtle piano touches of “Stay” mixed with Marshall’s heavy vocals are what you want more of on this album. “Nothing Really Matters” gets close, but doesn’t hit as hard as the previous three mentioned. The hearty nature of Marshall’s voice when it’s saddened is where the good parts are, and it’s sad we don’t get more focus from her with the bulk of this release.
Wanderer is available to stream on all platforms, you can purchase it from all digital store fronts or directly from Domino Records. You can catch Cat Power in person starting October 11 at The Agora Theatre in Cleveland and ending on February 12 at The Tivoli in Brisbane, Australia. A complete list of tour dates can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel.