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Cat Power’s Wanderer is intimacy is unmemorable

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 3 mins read

On her last album, Sun, Cat Power’s musical motifs therein were varied and complex, yet this time around, a stripped down intimacy is the theme. Ten albums into her career, much territory has naturally been covered already, though, after exploring the sound of several songs on the new offering Wanderer, one gets the sense that an intimate affair opens itself up to more scrutiny if the songs themselves are not the strongest ones an artist can offer up. This is that type of affair, where no one track holds your complete attention, and where few especially stand out as moving or memorable.

We are hanging on Cat’s every word

Cat Power’s latest begins with the title track, a ghostly harmonized folk vocal called Wanderer, which conjures up Appalachian visions, yet could also be categorized as atmospherically Celtic. For such a refreshing moment, it is a big bummer that the track is shockingly only 1:14 seconds long. Like, why? This is when art can be too controlled– don’t tease us like that – play some more! From this intimate start, a sense of direct connection to the artist continues for most of the album, where super stripped down arrangements, often nothing more than piano and vocals, brings us very close to the singer, as if we are there inches away from her lips.

Some songs special and some sleep inducing

As far as ballads go, it is hard not to feel a badass sense of love for the moaning, haunting, very well written number Horizon. This languid yarn has only a few lines in each verse, and makes the most of it; “little sister, I know from where your brown eyes get / your face on horizon I cannot see / your face on horizon I cannot say.” These are ambiguous words–with family at its core, and these specific wishes and interactions leave me with a feeling that quality time spent is running out for us all. Here, the laborious quality works great and is perfectly moody, yet most tracks come off as boring due to the main melody not grabbing you.

Sleepy and meandering, even with support from Del Ray

Women (feat. Lana Del Ray) has some sweet moments purchased through melodic exclamation points, and kudos to how the track transitions from the more redundant parts into a building up of instruments and sound levels, but the ultimate hook is terribly weak. You Get, wakes us up a little with its raw grungy edge to Cat Power’s vocal delivery and attitude-infused guitar line, quiet though it all may be. Robbin Hood brings me back to my generally lukewarm response to the album, with the added challenge of not being able to understand the lyrics: “gun to your head, they want solely your money / robbing my mind with all the gloves only.”

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