Cat Power: Wanderer review – Stripped-back and self-assured

Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Wanderer

Artist:
Cat Power

Label:
Domino

Genre:
Alternative

Cat Power is an adventurer. Each voyage of self-discovery is guided by music, her enduring compass. Sonically, the Atlanta-raised musician, born Chan Marshall, has ventured between blues rock, synth-pop and two covers albums for good measure. However, her 10th album, Wanderer, is rooted in subdued Americana.

Marshall’s latest self-produced record couldn’t be further, tonally, from where its predecessor, Sun, left off six years ago. That release sampled from an overflowing treasure chest of gleaming post-production embellishments.

Wanderer is a more modest affair. In a concise 37 minutes, Marshall’s rasping vocals are accompanied by economic instrumentations. A lo-fi arsenal of muffled percussion, layered vocal harmonies, sedate guitar playing and wistful piano chords are utilised sparingly per arrangement.

Melancholic notes resonate on Nothing Really Matters and her cover of Rihanna’s Stay, two sublime moments on the record. Elsewhere, autotune veils vulnerable pleas addressed to her family: “Father, I need you to be a man,” she sings on Horizon.

Wanderer’s essence is captured on recent single Woman, the radio-friendly duet featuring Lana Del Rey. “My word’s the only thing I’ve ever needed,” sings Marshall.

Here, a self-assured Cat Power has finally reached her destination.