Power To Shine
Having watched Cat Power’s singularly absorbing performance on last night’s Later....with Jools Holland I have today returned to her 2012 album Sun. It is excellent, though at a significant distance to the stripped back performance of last night’s Bully. On this album there is a considerable move to electronic and other quite busy arrangements, not least the effects put on her vocal like multi-tracking. Opener Cherokee is quite popified in this respect, though it is also pleasing in this respect; second Sun relies even more on electronic backing and the layering of her vocal. And third Rain which is also increasingly catchy in its lively, funky beats. Fourth 3,6,9 is also arranged to hook us with its complex and playful vocal acrobatics.
It’s not until fifth Always On My Own that a more sombre, perhaps expected style asserts itself, the deep pulsing electronic bass setting us up for similar in next Real Life which is another complex vocal and electronic patterning: all of these so at odds to the simplicity of last night’s rendition – a classic enough studio/live dichotomy, but it more importantly demonstrates Power’s range. In seventh Human Being, though there is double tracking, we get the clearest expression of Power’s unadorned vocal. With ninth Silent Machine there is a glam rock riff to start and then a move to jagged electronic effects and more of the multi-tracking that forms the vocal core of the album’s winning cohesive sound. The longest track at nearly eleven minutes is tenth Nothin But Time, and it is my least favourite, lacking for me the relative complexity of the rest. Eleventh Peace and Love has a welcome guitar-rock slant and a chorus that could speak for the Thatcher generation in its rejection of the communal, Peace and love is a famous generation/I’m a lover but I’m in it to win. Closer, fourteenth King Rides By, has a powerful electronic echoed effect at its musical centre, but the vocal is once more unadorned by the use of effects [apart from gorgeous harmonising] and is quite beautiful for this.