London Shepherd's Bush Empire
The fine line between Sonic Youth and Hank Williams...
It’s a post-grunge, raga-jazz thing, a trail of art noise minimalism, a lo-fi thriller with emotions dense and bloody. All of the above are partially true, but no description entirely lights up the show that is ‘Moonpix’.
Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, walks a dazzling line between Sonic Youth and Hank Williams. On this, her fourth album, she sounds like the oldest person alive; copping lines from the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ on the ferocious ‘Metal Heart’ or getting in character for ‘Moonshiner’, a tune that she learnt off a Dylan bootleg and that’s imbued with the lonesome spirit of Will Oldham.
Two-thirds of the Dirty Three (guitarist Mick and drummer Jim) are on hand, but this kind of music is best kept bare and haunting. The trance-like mood of ‘He Turns Down’ allows the luxury of a free-riffing flute in the background, but otherwise there’s nothing extravagant out there.
The most affecting moments are saved for ‘Colors And The Kids’, which is quietly suicidal, remembering the best and worst of times. Yet she hangs in there, and the song ends up anthem-like. Her roots in the American South are revealed in ‘You May Know Him’, which is more Otis Redding than Polly Harvey. While Chan has been compared to the latter many times, ‘Moonpix’ makes this less relevant than ever.
It’s no sea of tranquillity, but these lunar landscapes are spectacular enough.