Cat Power's 10th album 'Wanderer' is magical in its grace and elegance

Marking 25 years in music, Power has produced an album 2018 desperately needed.

Twenty-five years and ten albums in, listeners should be familiar with the quintessential Cat Power sound – stark, raw-edged, naked, vulnerable. There are no surprises on Wanderer. Featuring barely any instrumentation beyond guitar, piano and her voice, the songs are sparse and straightforward. The familiar and hypnotic pluck-strum-pluck-strum guitar and bass-treble-bass-treble piano returns repeatedly throughout the album, underpinning Charlyn Marshall’s poetic lyrics and potently expressive voice.

Where previous Cat Power records may have been viewed as repositories for pain, Wanderer – released six years after its predecessor, and created during Marshall’s transition to motherhood – is more an imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility.

The opening track ‘Wanderer’ is essentially spiritual – soft, female harmonies floating ghost-like beside Marshall’s prayerful alto voice. A highlight of the album, the sunnier sounding ‘Horizon’, examines the complicated bonds between family members, piano and drums gently grooving beneath the between voice and playful vocoder.

In a musical landscape saturated with big songs, loudness and highly produced hit-singles, the understated Wanderer is not lost; instead, its spacious simplicity is captivating.