Shoe tags at the Krsna temple in Mumbai, India
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

Cat Power: 3,6,9
Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

On the haunting Human Being here, a slinky electronica-driven piece which slides under the skin and into the subconscious, Cat Power -- out from under the cloak of bankruptcy and a broken relationship -- speaks of the rights you have: you've got your own voice so sing, you've got two hands so go make anything, we've got rules to break and mistakes to make . . .

She also notes you can see people like you and me on TV being shot in your own street so . . . Just make something of yourself, get on with it, create a life.

Sonically this piece may sound moody and broody and suffused in darkness, but it is also life-affirming and in its brevity you sense it was a notion she needed to get off her chest.

Much of this album has a similar quality of just entering your subconscious and leaving a message. If people have passed out of your life (Manhattan) you still need to seek the light and she's inviting you to be "dancing to a different tune".

Power -- aka Chan Marshall -- has spoken of this album as a rebirth and it certainly has that sense, especially as she has put aside the soul and blues of previous albums and shifted confidently into sharp beat, mulit-layered but often minimal-sounding electronica.

The poppy Ruin -- a swipe at the complacent West in a world of poverty and pain -- is the least of it here, but when she kicks things up a notch -- the dancefloor friendly Silent Machine with brittle guitar, the almost romantic sounding 11-minute Nothin' But Time with Iggy Pop in a guest spot where she sings "it's up to you, you ain't got nothin' but time and it's got nothin' on you" -- that positive mood really takes flight.

Not that things start this way as the opener Cherokee has "it's my way down . . . I never knew pain like this when everything dies". Mercifully however this is offset with "I never knew love like this" and the trip-hop folktronic beats offer the pick-me-up.

It's as if Power has seen that life and emotions are a balancing act, and by taking them equally you can better appreciate each. The album is, after all, entitled Sun and not Night.

And on the title track -- which almost seems to sweat with heat and closeness -- she asks whose side you are on and says "this is the day people like me been waiting for, so tired of waiting".

So a cathartic, often optimistic album from one who most often lives with the fraught, damaging and most isolationist ideas.

That's got be a good thing . . . although it often isn't for an artist. There is still a useful sense of unease here, but scattered throughout there are warm breezes and the light of the sun.

Very interesting and different album which could take her to a completely new audience while allowing longtime followers entrails to read.

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Your Comments

Catherine Walker - Sep 28, 2012

I'd not been a huge Cat Power fan- but this album has converted me. I love the sense of optimism that comes through - rare I think and hard to do without turning into candy. It's got a gazillion times more balls than a lot of minimal electronic music being made at the moment *xx*. I think she should most definitely capture a new audience with this release. Love it.

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