Mono, Glasgow. Wed 18 Jun “Difficult to interview.‘ Three little words that strike fear into the hearts of journos. So when a colleague uses them in reference to Cat Power (aka American singer songwriter Chan Marshall), with an accompanying ‘good luck, you‘ll need it‘, I am not overly thrilled.

But really Chan Marshall is a delight to interview. Sort of. OK, she‘s a bit out there, not quite Bjork-meets-Tori Amos-in-a- bath-of—baked-beans, but she is chatty, polite and articulate. and is comfortable enough to start telling jokes in a Scottish accent and giggling down the phone from France.

Part of Marshall’s reputation no doubt stems from her often fractious live performances (where she once ended foetal and being comforted by fans as her band walked off stage) and her frustrating insecurities about what she actually does for a living. Evidence for the prosecution: Check this for a ‘plug’ of the new album, the gorgeously simple but moving You are Free.

‘There’s a couple of songs on there that I like,‘ she says grudgingly. ‘But I really feel that it‘s very tense and strange and unfinished and just kind of mild.‘

But what about all her other records? As Cat Power, Marshall has a back catalogue of half a dozen releases, records that have accurately mapped the career of a Ieftfield songwriting genius-of-sorts.

‘Same thing,’ she says of those earlier albums. ‘The older records are more boring and excruciating to me, because I was younger and had so many inner questions, and there’s all that self-fucked-up-ness in there. Sometimes songs make you remember stuff; that’s why I don't like listening to my own records.‘

I make the mistake of suggesting that in an ideal world she would never have to make another record.

‘In an ideal world I‘d be a painter,’ she laughs to herself, ‘and I‘d have a hundred husbands, and I would be able to breath under water, and I could fly.‘

Fair enough. Wouldn’t painting pictures have the same problem as her records though? Snapshots of her state of mind at any particular time?

‘No, no, no, no, no,’ she says emphatically. ‘Not in an ideal world. In an ideal world I’d just be painting, painting, painting, painting. It's like thinking on paper, or dreaming on paper. It’s like questioning on paper. it‘s answering on paper, it’s reacting, it’s action, you know?‘

Erm, no, to be honest. Cat Power - not difficult to interview, just difficult to understand.

(Doug Johnstone)

More than her share of pussy-footing around

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ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA Usher Hall, Edinburgh Thu 12-Sat 14 Jun: Royal Concert Hall. Glasgow. Wed 18-Sat 28 Jun

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