June 18, 2012

Song Review: Cat Power's "Ruin"


Early on in her career, tearful on-stage breakdowns, no shows and bouts with intense stage fright gained Chan Marshall the reputation of being one of music's most fragile songwriters. As she gained success and support from a growing fan base however, so did Marshall's confidence to perform. 2006's The Greatest and 2008's cover collection Jukebox saw Cat Power reinvent herself as a soccer mom-swooning bluesy frontwoman backed by her band the Dirty Delta Blues, and it seemed like Chan had finally found her niche in life. Marshall has kept herself under wraps and her work well-guarded ever since however. Cancelling high-profile dates in Israel and an appearance at this past year's Coachella in the process lent speculation once again about her emotional state despite revealing a charity single and that her 9th studio album (and first in six years) Sun would be arriving on September 10th via longtime home Matador. "Ruin" is its first single, and for all that chronic hearsay about her well-being, Chan Marshall flips the switch on critics by flaunting content with where she is today. The creation of Sun reportedly occurred during a rough split with longtime boyfriend and actor Giovannani Ribisi (one of the many douchey guys in Avatar, Phoebe's not-so-bright brother on Friends,) but unlike every other catharsis Marshall has purged from her system due to love's woes, this may be the first time she's getting the upper hand on it. Written and recorded the world over including her new studio in Malibu, the relaxing climate shows its influence on "Ruin" with colorful Carribbean piano chords subdued by Cat Power's signature weathered voice and early-era gritty guitars before they transition into a dance-punk beat, as if Cat Power is making a point of shedding her skin before our ears to usher in an even more sure-footed next chapter in her career. Throughout the listen, Marshall effectively snaps back at people "bitchin'" and "complainin'" about their lives when there's others who "ain't got shit to eat." I'm pressed to believe here on "Ruin" that Cat Power is completely aware now that wallowing in your self-important sorrows -- no matter how heartbreaking -- doesn't get you any further along life's path.

Cat Power - "Ruin"

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