Last month, Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, released her first single since 2006, “Ruin.” The track comes from her forthcoming Matador long-player, Sun, which is Marshall’s first album of entirely original material since 2006′s The Greatest.
In her 17 years of recording music as Cat Power, Marshall has evolved from a neurotically nervous confessional songwriter — one who embraced minimalism, worked closely with Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, recording quickly to get out of the studio as soon as possible; she would play shows with her back to the audience, with a reputation for eccentric on-stage behavior.
Through breakdowns and periods of time where she planned to abandon music altogether to become a housewife and mother, Marshall only continued to grow into a more confident and compelling songwriter, eventually moving to blues and soul, embracing her Southern roots. As much as she resented it, Chan always came back to music, eventually becoming one of the most beloved songwriters of her time, yet all the while remaining a mysterious, enigmatic, odd persona.
Now 40 years old, Marshall is up to her ninth studio album, with dozens of excellent early tracks and one-off singles making up her discography as well. Here are 10 that have resonated most over the years — the ones that are most heartbreaking, most crushing, but her greatest to date.
Marshall has always maintained a deep affinity for cover songs, a habit that seems due both to apprehension about her own songwriting and her respect for folk music traditions, the act of preserving and re-creating relics of Americana. Of her vast collection — she has entire albums of cover songs — stand-outs include her beautiful renditions of “Sea Of Love” (John Philip Baptiste), “Stuck inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” (Bob Dylan), “Still In Love with You” (Hank Williams). These were all considered for this list, but ultimately, it was impossible to not stick with Marshall’s own poetry.
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