St. Vincent is the name which multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Annie Clark records under. I heard her 2007 debut, Marry Me, and to be honest, I didn't knock me out. But now I find myself wishing I could track it down, because Actor, St. Vincent's recently released sophomore set, is exquisite. Check out this video for "Out of Work Actor," one of several fine tracks on the album.
As you heard in that clip, Clark's voice has an ethereal quality that's reminiscent of Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Yet her songs, filled with weird guitar and vocal effects and percussion, become more intense and stranger as they progress. Check out this mind-blowing live premiere of "The Strangers," Actor's opening track, for proof. You can take a listen to the studio version as well.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-born Clark dabbled in composition when she was still a teen, composing original music for her high school's production of Alice In Wonderland before joining her aunt and uncle, better known as Tuck & Patti, on a world tour, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Clark went on to attend the Berklee School of College of Music, but dropped out and returned to her childhood hometown of Dallas where she ended up joining symphonic-pop oddballs the Polyphonic Spree. Later, she worked as a member of Sufjan Stevens' touring band, before launching her solo career under the St. Vincent banner.
Actor was recorded in less than a year on a computer in Clark's Brooklyn apartment, as opposed to Marry Me, which she pieced together over a number of years. The result is a more immediately compelling and cohesive effort.
"I had just moved to New York, and I couldn't make a lot of noise, and I was really inspired by the idea of recession," Clark recently told the Los Angeles Times' Todd Martens. "If I had a melody I really liked, I would double-time it later in the song, and take it half-time and use it somewhere else, or invert it and transpose it. I was really into this idea of using one simple idea in as many ways as possible, like milking every idea. It's music for the new American recession."
Listening to St. Vincent's Actor isn't likely to put money in your pockets, but I think it might just soothe your soul during these troubled times. How about you?