Chan Marshall, the driving force behind the ever-moody Cat Power, is back. Her new album Sun (Matador) is due out on September 4, but you can download the first single “Ruin” right now.
It has been six years since Marshall has released anything original and 4 since her last studio effort, Jukebox, a collection of cover songs arranged by Marshall and backed by The Dirty Delta Blues Band. In the interim it is reported that Marshall has been recovering from a break-up with long-term boyfriend, actor Giovanni Ribisi. During this process Marshall built a studio in Malibu and began laying down tracks for Sun. Where in recent releases she would collaborate with other musicians to build a bigger band sound, Sun is a decisive return to her roots. Marshall performed and produced all the tracks herself, but don’t expect a minimalist landscape of ache and sorrow a la Dear Sir or What Would the Community Think. Marshall might do anything for love, but she wont do that. “Ruin“, the first single, may be about heartache but it is also a dance song. It opens with a piano line more reminiscent of Miami than Malibu, and that Latin-tinged bit is looped and layered under Marshall’s signature purr. Where with earlier Cat Power the listener could become steeped within her melancholy throes, something that Marshall has become proficient in is the development of a great hook and the resistance of getting trapped within those moods. Her early work is genius but is easily outgrown. After all, we can’t sit in our rooms and feel that intensely about things forever. Luckily, neither can Marshall. We have all watched her dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues over the years. Falling apart during live shows had become the norm. But through all this Marshall’s songwriting has strengthened. Not only has she maintained, she has prospered and remains highly influential both in her previous work and in each of her subsequent releases. She is a true pioneer in minimalist sound, female-fronted folk, and low-fi indie pop. What would the community think? That Chan Marshall beat the system and she aint going anywhere.
Sun comes out on Matador on September 4, 2012. Pre-order through iTunes or the Cat Power website.