Wanderer Domino Records
HAVING come of age during the grunge and Riot Grrrl movements of the early 1990s and found kindred spirits among New York’s avant-garde experimentalists, Cat Power is now a veteran exponent of a brand of barbed, confessional, leftfield songwriting which has since drawn many younger women into its slipstream. Annie Clark (aka St Vincent) and Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards) are just two.
Power’s first studio album in six years follows 2012’s Sun, though where that album was animated and expansive, ripe with instrumentation and buzzing with energy, Wanderer is a more intimate proposition. Gone is the electricity – literally – replaced instead by acoustic guitars and lo-fi piano (you can often hear Power’s pedal movements).
It’s only on Woman, a duet with Lana Del Rey, that she flexes her musical muscles and adds production to match.
Elsewhere songs such as the heavily folk-influenced title track or the drone-based Horizon feel more suited to the coffee house or late-night bar, which only serves to make their rawness more keenly felt. An emotionally wrought set, with some standout moments of eerie beauty.
AFTER nearly 50 years of touring, travelling and recording with stars like David Bowie and Cat Stevens, you could be forgiven for thinking Rick Wakeman deserves a chance to indulge himself. And that’s exactly what the renowned keyboardist does on his new album Piano Odyssey, which sees him eschew his trusty array of Moogs, electric organs and keyboards in favour of the grand piano.
Wakeman is best known as the keyboardist for Yes, and therefore as a pioneer of progressive rock. But if Wakeman is anything on Piano Odyssey, he’s regressive, taking on well-worn classics and opting for pleasingly uncomplicated arrangements. Under his deft fingers, tracks such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Strawberry Fields Forever come alive as voices soar over horns and strings.
More an exercise in experimentation, Piano Odyssey won’t take listeners anywhere uncomfortable, surprising or even new but it is undeniably satisfying to hear a virtuoso like Wakeman get his hands on these classic songs.