Sun

Cat Power

Sun is the ninth studio album by American musician Cat Power, released in 2012. Her first album of all-original material since 2006’s ‘The Greatest.’

Work on the album initially began soon after the release of ‘The Greatest,’ with Marshall announcing the album’s title as far back as 2006 in an interview with ‘The New York Times,’ where she also claimed that the entire album had already been written.

She decided to finance the recording of ‘Sun’ herself, following financial difficulties arising from the cancellation of a lengthy tour in 2006 due to her hospitalization at the psychiatric ward of Mount Sinai Hospital in NY. She was later declared bankrupt, claiming ‘I had my house in foreclosure and I hadn’t paid taxes in two years. So to get away from people second guessing me and wondering what I was going to do with the advance for this album, I said, ‘I’m going to fucking pay for this shit myself.’ I knew that’d be the only way I could control things. So I cashed out my retirement fund.’

Recording began sometime in 2007, with Marshall building a studio in her Malibu home to record and produce new songs herself. However, much of the material recorded up to this point was later abandoned when she decided it was ‘too painful and personal to put out,’ stating ‘I was writing all these really slow guitar songs, and my friend said, ‘This is like depressing old Cat Power,’ which made me feel like I got shot. I didn’t work for eight months after that.’

Progress on the album was delayed again with the recording and release of her second covers album ‘Jukebox’ in 2008, and later by her relationship with actor Giovanni Ribisi. Following the tour in support of ‘Jukebox,’ she resumed recording at The Boat Studio in Silverlake, California, where she began work on newly written, electronic material, with Marshall claiming, ‘I had no fucking idea what to do, but I knew I was not going to even look at a piano or touch a guitar. So I started out with a weird synthesizer. Eventually I had these skeletons of songs, but then I felt like a failure because I thought, ‘This is not fucking good, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ And I didn’t know what I was doing. I had lyrics and a beat and notes, but I didn’t have anything else. It sounded like a naked, shivering alien.’

This period of inactivity placed a strain on Marshall’s relationship with her label Matador who, concerned by the lack of progress, began pressuring Marshall to work with a producer. Marshall—who hadn’t worked with a producer since Ed Douglas recorded both ‘Dear Sir’ and ‘Myra Lee’ on the same day in 1994—resisted, stating ‘Telling [a musician] they need a producer is like telling someone that they need a nose job. It activates something in you that makes you feel like a loser.’

It was around this time that Marshall regrouped at her home in Malibu with members of her backing band, the Dirty Delta Blues, to start preparation for a tour in the beginning of 2011. Rehearsing many of the ‘skeletal’ new compositions she had written, the band would go on to perform ten previously unreleased songs over the course of the tour. Hoping to rerecord these songs with the band following completion of the tour, these sessions, according to Marshall, ‘didn’t work out the way [she] hoped,’ noting that ‘Ruin’ is the only song on the album to feature contributions from the Dirty Delta Blues band.

Production for the album continued at South Beach Studios in Miami, where Marshall began rerecording the instrumentation from the aborted Dirty Blues Band sessions. After hearing a song from the Beastie Boys album ‘Hot Sauce Committee Part Two’ on the radio, she contacted that album’s mixer, Cassius member Philippe Zdar, in the hope of a potential collaboration. Unable to pay Zdar for his mixing work until the album was finalized and presented to Matador for release, she transferred her work to Zdar’s recording studio in France—where he worked pro bono—until sessions for the album finally concluded in 2012.

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