Chan Marshall (pronounced Shawn) also known as Cat Power gave a somber and achingly beautiful performance at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville Virginia Wednesday September 18th. Performing with a three-piece multi-instrumental band comprised of drummer Alianna Kalaba, guitarist/bassists Adeline Jason and Erik Paparazzi on keyboards and “everything else” accoriding to Marshall. For other bands or entertainers this might sound like a negative critic, however for Cat Power it is a cathartic vision of hope. Casual listeners will most likely be familiar with Chan Marshall’s work from the 2006 album The Greatest. This record brought her up from the indie scene and into the national spot light. Songs such as Lived in bars, and The Greatest were a regular radio staple in that time frame. Things took a turn in 2012 when she was hospitalized for a condition called Angioedema which in her case affected her vocal cords severely. This coincided with the release of the album Sun. This type of issue might have ended the careers of other lesser musicians, but Chan Marshall found salvation from a wellspring that lives deep inside her.
2018 brought fans the gift of a new Cat Power record called Wanderer. Stripped down and full of truth Wanderer takes Marshall back to her roots. Listeners can hear the struggle to regain sanity and find love through the sparse and haunted sounds of this album. Recorded at the Pink House in Miami as well as 10K Islands and Los Angeles’ Mant Studios. Wanderer is a welcome return to form. After a falling out with long time label Matador, Marshall has found new life on the British label Domino. Wanderer shares framework with earlier records You Are Free, Moon Pix, and What would the Community Think. This is Marshall writing in her purest form, still invoking the spirits of old blues performers and blending the angular sounds of late 90’s indie rock.
The show begins with the lights being brought down in a deep hazy dream-like fashion. Slowly shifting colors from red to purple then blue further enhance the mystic quality of Chan Marshall’s voice and presence. Starting off with He turns down Marshall begins to sway, wearing in a long flowing black dress and float around the stage like a soulful apparition adding even more to the haunting nature of the show. Performing Horizon, Robin Hood, Me Voy, In Your Face, and Wanderer from the new record alongside a good range of material from earlier albums. Highlights included Metal Heart, Good Woman, and crowd favorite The Greatest. Marshall performed several covers such as Into My Arms by Nick Cave, an ethereal version of Nico’s These Days which carried more weight feeling as though her recent trials and tribulations were pouring out to the audience. Marshall also covered the Lana Del Ray song White Mustang adding a deeper emotional touch as only Cat power can. Last but certainly not least the show ended with a touching tribute to recently deceased Silver Jews singer and friend David Berman, who hailed from the Charlottesville area.
I was lucky enough to see Cat Power on her 2003 You Are Free tour. What I saw then was a person who music poured out from every pore. A strong woman able to make pure art while struggling through an intense emotional mine field. Watching Chan Marshall perform is a quasi religious experience and I would easily put her in the same room with many of the soul and blues artists that she draws strength from. In 2019 we are all witness to the reemergence of a singular American Talent. Do yourself a favor and go see Cat Power and let her deep soulful voice baptize you into the pure roots faith away from some of the plastic pop tripe served up on today’s radio.
Contributing Writer at Custom Made Music