Multiple references to Cat Power reached me in a really short period of time. I was thinking of Cat Stevens, nowadays known as Yusuf Islam (God forbide him!), but no, Cat Power is actually the artistic name of an incredibly beautiful woman named Chan Marshall.
I first heard of her because she was the cover of a book written by a friend about women and music. The picture was a capture of Marshall’s performance at a local festival, in an aggressive attitude, but didn’t have the slightest idea about her music style.
Her last work, Sun, was released earlier this month, however the record company gave the opportunity to listen to the album in streaming, in advance. There was enough buzz by media coverage as to catch my attention so I listened to the album. It had nothing to do with what I thought she might be doing. Even though I found it dark and a bit cold, and not very easy to access and assimilate at once, I liked her voice, sweet and sensual yet firm and personal.
I asked for some album recommendations in one of the most popular music forums I’m registered, and most participants named Jukebox, her previous work, and The Greatest, as good starters to get acquainted with her style.
I purchased both albums and started focusing on Jukebox, and my curiosity went on as to check details of her career and personal life though Internet. Seems that childhood was not gentle with her, marked by the divorce of her parents. Drugs, alcohol abuse and suicidal behavior, Chan Marshall is a tortured soul, and her music somehow reflects all her troubles. Moreover, her performances for some time were a matter of luck as her behavior was completely unpredictable. Weird! I don’t know why, Janis Joplin came to my mind.
Jukebox is an easy approach to Cat Power’s universe because it’s a cover album after all, except for Song To Bobby and Metal Heart, the second one raw and amazingly intense. The artists covered are quite different, Billie Holiday, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams or James Brown. The review of New York opens the album, giving the hint that the following tracks are moving in the same direction: sensuality, intimacy, and elegance. Hers is a unique voice, moving up and down, melodies are difficult to follow, they actually seem to be improvised, they sound very fresh.
The album in general terms is very atmospheric and evoking, perfect for those moments you are completely relaxed laid on your coach, having a glass of wine, in a faint light, if not in the dark… to be honest, this is an album for lovers, for those moments you’re just enjoying the other’s presence and warmth, with the eyes closed.
Thus, my Cat Power experience has been positive for the moment, and with the perfect timing, as she’ll be playing at Primavera Club Festival in December. Now that I’ve approached a couple of her albums I reckon it’s time to give Sun a chance, and be ready for her visit.