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Cat Power - Wanderer (Album Review)

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Eliot Lee Hazel 

‘Wanderer’ is the 10th album (and first in six years) from Georgia native Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power. It’s a gentle, occasionally mournful record that makes great use of her delicate piano and guitar stylings, and which maintains a high level of musical quality despite frequently pedestrian songwriting.

When it clicks, we end up with songs like the superb You Get, which is a grooving, sultry rocker that seems to channel the peculiarly Lynchian form of blues melancholia initially popularised by Chris Isaak.

It has elevating harmonies that overlap and confuse the song, giving it a circular quality amid lyrics that repeat and drive at their point. “You get what you get,” Marshall says relentlessly, like a kind of karmic spiritual born in the deep south.

There is also a decent piano cover of Rihanna’s Stay that demonstrates Marshall’s distinctive sense of understatement, and it is a worthwhile exercise in varied interpretation. That said, one does just want the song to break out, and it falls a little flat because of that tension. Such an anticlimactic listening experience highlights the discombobulating sensation of hearing an artist sing mawkish ballads when their name suggests that they are a funk collective.

The top moment probably comes on Woman - a Lana del Rey collaboration that opens with an ecclesiastical vocal duet before dropping into an understated semi-anthem. It also comments directly on Marshall’s health problems: “Doctor said I was better than ever / Man, you shoulda seen me / Doctor said I was locked in my past /He said I was finally free.” Beautifully direct lyric writing.

The song has magic in it, but Marshall might slightly overplay her hand. It’s good, but not as good as such a grand musical idea deserves. This song feels like it was written to be a kind of #MeToo anthem, capturing a particular kind of feminine defiance, but the laconic musical arrangement and delivery jars with the sweeping nature of the concept. Like the album as a whole, it doesn't live long in the memory despite its quality.

Cat Power Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Tue October 23 2018 - LONDON Roundhouse
Sat February 09 2019 - MELBOURNE Zoo
Mon February 11 2019 - SYDNEY Enmore Theatre
Tue February 12 2019 - BRISBANE Tivoli
Thu October 11 2018 - CLEVELAND Ohio - Agora Theater (USA)
Fri October 12 2018 - LOUISVILLE Kentucky - Headliners Music Hall Louisville (USA)
Sat October 13 2018 - ATLANTA Georgia - Center Stage Theatre (USA)
Sat November 17 2018 - SEATTLE Washington - Showbox (USA)
Sun November 18 2018 - PORTLAND Oregon - Roseland Theater (USA)
Tue November 20 2018 - OAKLAND California - Fox Theater Oakland (USA)
Wed November 21 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Fri November 23 2018 - SANTA ANA California - Observatory Santa Ana (USA)
Sat November 24 2018 - SAN DIEGO California - Observatory North Park (USA)
Sun November 25 2018 - PHOENIX Arizona - Van Buren (USA)
Tue November 27 2018 - AUSTIN Texas - Emo's East (USA)
Wed November 28 2018 - HOUSTON Texas - White Oak Music Hall (USA)
Thu November 29 2018 - DALLAS Texas - Granada Theater Dallas (USA)
Sat December 15 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Union Transfer (USA)
Sun December 16 2018 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - 930 Club (USA)
Tue December 18 2018 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Steel (USA)
Wed December 19 2018 - MILLVALE Pennsylvania - Mr. Smalls Theatre (USA)
Thu December 20 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Thu October 25 2018 - PARIS Le Trianon (France)
Fri October 26 2018 - BRUSSELS Ancienne Belgique (Belgium)
Sun October 28 2018 - BERLIN Astra (Germany)
Mon October 29 2018 - ZURICH Xtra (Switzerland)
Tue October 30 2018 - LAUSANNE Les Docks (Switzerland)
Thu November 01 2018 - BARCELONA Razzamatazz (Spain)
Fri November 02 2018 - MADRID Circo Price (Spain)
Mon November 05 2018 - BOLOGNA Estragon (Italy)
Tue November 06 2018 - MILAN Alcatraz (Italy)

Click here to compare & buy Cat Power Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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