Music Moment: Annie Clark aka “St. Vincent”

Annie Clark is a singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name of St. Vincent. Her first album, Marry Me, came out in 2007 and got her massive attention from peers and critics. Justly, I think. It’s very well-written and performed, but her follow-up, Actor, is the one that really blows me away. So I’m putting up tracks from both and encouraging you to buy both.

St. Vincent – What, Me, Worry?

“What, Me, Worry?” is probably my favorite song by her. It comes off of her first LP, Marry Me, which, like Actor, is available for purchase directly from her label, Beggars Group, in like, every format of music-listening known to man. (Okay, not eight-track. No one is PERFECT.) This song, like a lot of her work, starts out deceptively gamine and light-hearted, then transitions, taking a sudden dip into much deeper, more solemn and world-wise territory. She reminds me of Edith Piaf this way; always with these light and skippy chanteuses, there is this darker side, this sideshow act in a midnight cabaret lurking underneath the smile and the wink. The jazz hands can also be used for digging and scratching — sometimes even at your own face, you know?

Have I abused you, dear?
You have had it to here.
You say, “Love is just a blood match
to see who endures lash
after lash with panache.”

Here is a youtube video from Shoot the Player of her doing an improv quickie version of “What, Me, Worry?” in Sydney.

She knows the videographer it seems, and so she doesn’t really get down to business until around :50. So if you don’t want to hear a lot of “a and b” chitty chat where they will “c” us later, skip to that point.

I realized these Music Moment posts tend to run really long because I like music way too much, and can’t bear to only give you half the story on someone I think is really special, so click here to keep reading about Annie Clark aka “St. Vincent”.

This was a popular track from Marry Me; the video always puts me in mind of Lord of the Flies, I guess because the blond kid looks like Piggy (sucks to yer asmarr).

“Jesus Saves, I Spend”

I find that most of the songs on Actor are more up front about their offbeat, tambourine-shook-by-bloody-knuckles-ness right out of the gate than the tracks on Marry Me, there is less of the coy and whimsical lacquer on the work, so even though the harmonic and even old-fashioned orchestrations are still there, the motifs tend to be direct and dark. This may make it more off-putting and get the album less radio play, but to thine own self be true, garrrl. Love it.

St Vincent – The Strangers

The repeated lyric “Paint the black hole blacker” and the insistent building of the disembodied, queer background vocals and atonal, jarring percussive beats increase until this song is explosive and frenzied. It’s not beautiful. It’s better than that. It’s a similar case with the following track, “Black Rainbow,” which deconstructs its own catchiness until it descends into this total fractured nightmare. I can’t wait ’til she makes some videos for these songs!

Black Rainbow

Finally, she has a wonderfully spirited and goofy side, too.

“I know it’s a controversial topic. But I’m brave enough to say it. Don’t bastardize my fruit salad with illegitimate fruit.” –Annie Clark aka “St. Vincent,” twitter.com (@st_vincent), September 25, 2009 via echofon.

Words to live by! (Annie is not a melon fan. She calls thorough and complete bullshit on melon with an admirable lack of bones about it, and she will make this clear to you if you read her twitter page.)

Annie appears on Amanda Palmer’s dynamo of an LP, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, singing a cover of the song “What’s the Use of Wondrin'” from Carousel, which who knows? You just may see soon. Oh, okay, god, I suck at foreshadowing—I’m already writing the damned thing, it’s tomorrow’s Music Moment. So look for that! It’s uber-creepy and excellent!

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