Plagued in the past by personal problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, and known for her suppressive stage fright, Cat Power has taken more than one hiatus in her career. However, after three years in the making Sun is set to reward anxious fans with eleven tracks written, produced and played single-handedly. While previous collaborations have undoubtedly been impressive, proving she can create harmony with musicians across genre borders, her venture into more of a solo career is gratifying to hear.
Sun embodies the energy and individuality of What Would the Community Think with more of a grown-up finish. Her recognisably raw and soulful voice now chants cathartic, more upbeat lyrics rather than the angst ridden tunes of earlier work. Thankfully her distinctly 60s vibe has not been erased, yet is presented in a more earthy form than ever before. ‘Cherokee’, ‘Manhattan’ and ‘Peace and Love’ are the stand-out tracks with each reaching a pace that perfectly befits Power’s style and display vocals nimbly in sync with the instrumental.
The only outside influence on the album is from synth-pop chief Philippe Zdar (Chromeo, Beastie Boys, Phoenix, Cassius). Oddly enough, his mixes on the tracks never deter from the earthy tone of the album, but rather make them more psychedelic in parts. The light touch of electro both adds to the trippy feel of Sun and gives it, rather paradoxically, a modern twist to the vintage tone.
Power’s bending vocal inflections are pleasingly accompanied by a soothing deep beat in songs such as ‘Manhattan’ and ‘Nothin But Time’. The track ‘Silent Machine’ veers more into the use of electro, illustrating Power’s experimentation. The one critique of this album is that while Power has returned with a well-honed work that displays more finesse than her previous work, the listener is still left wanting her to have pushed even further. Admirably, the singer has always produced covers and collaborations that cover a wide pool of genres and has also always maintained a distinct identity to her music; even these extra activities have been transformed into the Cat Power sound. While this makes her unique, she has never managed to make an album as diverse as she might. Despite this, Sun is a welcome return that hints at further potential and creative development to come.