30th June 2021
The very first artist I featured on the Loving the Music page in August 2019 was St Vincent, otherwise known as Annie Clark. I called her as quirky as Bjork and as skilful as Joni Mitchell. For me, St Vincent falls into the category of extremely talented ladies who have risen to prominence during the 2000s. Artists such as Imogen Heep, Grimes and Annie Clark deserve a lot more attention than they receive.
I received the heads-up about St Vincent’s 7th studio album, Daddy’s Home, in May and have been meaning to take a listen for the last few weeks. Today I did, and I reached the same conclusion as I did with her albums St Vincent and Masseduction, so much cleverness needs more than a cursory play.
Pitchfork summed up Annie Clark best when the called her “An immense talent with an impeccable track record, her meticulous craft is matched by a Bowian gift for shapeshifting” With Masseduction we were knocked out by Annie’s lycra and leather bondage outfits (move over Madonna). This time we are treated to the perfectly turned out Candy Darling coiffed persona with not a hair (or note) out of place.
There is something 70s about the new album. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it makes for happy listening. Her videos are as stylized as ever, which is a part of her well-choreographed image and her exceptional songwriting skills are on full display. Today I’m sharing a few songs from the new album and a clip of her playing solo and acoustic at an NPR Tiny Desk session.
My first track is ‘Pay Your Way in Pain’. It may just be me, but I think that the late, great Prince would have loved to do a duo of this with Ms Clark.
It seems that Annie Clark was destined to follow a music career. As a 5-year-old her prize possession was a red plastic guitar. This was replaced by the real thing and from the age of 12 she was acting as a roadie for her aunt and uncle’s vocal jazz group Tuck & Patti. She played jazz at school before attending the Berkley College of Music.
She released her first EP with a few fellow Berkley students in 2003. This followed with a stint with the Polyphonic Spree, Glenn Branca’s 100 Guitar Orchestra and a brief time with a noise-rock outfit before joining the Sufian Steven’s touring band. In 2006 she started recording under the name St Vincent and the 2007 release Marry Me was critically applauded and led to her winning the 2008 PLUG Female Artist of the Year award.
This was followed by Actor in 2009 which won her an even wider audience and further acclaim. Strange Mercy was released in late 2011 to rave reviews. She began touring the US and Europe in support of the record in the fall of 2011 and continued a worldwide tour throughout 2012.
More of Annie’s back-story shortly, but in the meantime let’s listen to the second song from Daddy’s Home has powerful influences as is explained in this comment in the YouTube clip from a Miss Ann Torpe who explained “These song lyrics reference Joni Mitchell’s “Furry Sings the Blues,” Tori Amos being done wrong by the justice system in a sexual assault case, Marilyn Monroe overdosing, and Nina Simone’s musical career suffering because of her civil rights activism. This is an incredible, sympathetic, and reverent ode to the women who paved the way for trailblazers like Annie to conquer the world, and it’s gorgeous”.
I agree Miss Thorpe! Here’s ‘The Melting of the Sun’
St Vincent is well known fr the numerous collaborations she has undertaken. One in particular is the brilliant Love This Giant with Talking Head’s David Byrne. The album produced a wonderful collection of songs that are clever, quirky, and fitting of these two creative powerhouses.
Her 4th album, the self-titled St Vincent earned her Album of the Year in 2014 and a Grammy for the Best Alternative Album. Other accolades included the being twice inducted to NPR‘s ‘200 Greatest songs by 21st Century Women’.
When Masseduction was released in 2017 the awards came rolling in, notably the Best Rock Song and Best Recording Package at the Grammys. Her sizzling and steamy duo with Dua Lupa of the mashup of their respective Grammy nominated songs, Masseduction and One Kiss took the internet by storm.
To close this article I have decided to share an older clip of St Vincent. This is for all of those who may doubt just how talented this lady is. Here she performs solo and acoustic coving some stripped back versions of favourites from her St Vincent and Masseduction albums.
Thanks for joining me for my St Vincent indulgence. Catch you soon.
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by me to support Loving the Music’s Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that does more than just share a song.
The Author owns no copyright on the images or videos in this article. All images and links sourced from YouTube and Google and within the public domain.
Words © Andrew Knapp 2021