Wednesday, September 7, 2011

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, has created something so vivid, exciting, and completely original with her third album that it'll be interesting to see where she goes from here. We can worry about the future later though. Strange Mercy, is full of her unique view of the world such as the song Cheerleader where she discusses the downside beauty and some of the ugliness that can accompany it. Her voice is so soft and light it feels as if her voice is a feather floating around these beautiful musical compositions. The best part that keeps the songs from falling apart is just when it seems the songs are going to crumble, her jagged and aggressive guitar rips into these carefully crafted seams of melody and grounds them only to allow the song to soar again.
Clark has a keen sense of how to have fun too. Her lyrics are sly and amusing and they can discuss topics that are dark, in complete contrast to the music, yet are song without a hint of irony. This underlying sense of contradiction, or tension, keeps drawing the listener in and really pays off with repeated listenings.
After three albums I have always wondered why she chose the moniker St. Vincent. Why not use your own name? I always thought that perhaps she was hiding behind the name and I felt she had nothing to hide. However I wonder now if perhaps she chose the name to avoid the usual cliche of women solo acts? She is much more than a coffee shop singer. If the point was to avoid labeling her and her music with other inferior acts it worked. As a musician she is confident, creative, and has her own voice. Who wouldn't want to listen to an artist like that?
What is clear is that Annie Clark continues to get better as a songwriter and is as exciting a musician today as anyone else you could name.

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
September 13th, 2011 - A

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