Cat Power's Chan Marshall is an infamously fickle performer. Hiding in plain sight onstage, her long, dark hair hanging over her face, she often seems to be attempting to disappear a bit more with every note she sings. The instinct is understandable, even if it does frequently make the experience of watching Marshall perform infuriating: The songs expose her, or they seem to, and thus the singer runs away from the light.
Occasionally backed by a band she trusts and singing songs she loves but did not write, Marshall is hypnotic, giving her husky, honeyed voice full force, and laughing and cracking jokes between verses. And occasionally allowing an audible tremble to creep into her voice before she cuts a song off mid-chorus and leaves the stage, she's uniquely compelling. Most of her shows veer between the two extremes, but you never know. The same question mark looms over the material likely to be debuted on this tour, from the forthcoming Cat Power LP, The Greatest. Recorded in Memphis with a team of R&B old-timers, the album has a "joyful" feel, Marshall has said. But Marshall, who is nervier than she lets on, has always been willing to cut a song down to fit the mood she's in when she gets onstage. That's the risk she takes. The audience takes its own.