Last night, a guest at KCRW’s private show with St Vincent turned to me and said “I don’t know how to describe what I’m seeing right now” – which is somehow a perfect description of Annie Clark and the work she has created under that moniker.
Whether shredding on her guitar or singing with all her heart, St Vincent is the work of an authentic artist who is engaging, surprising, and endearingly awkward. Her music is constantly turning corners you weren’t expecting and her live show is simply stunning.
The focus and ferocity with which she attacks the guitar with her entire body (in a mini skirt and heels, no less!) during dizzying solos it offset by a sly yet sweet smile between each song – and those seemingly opposing features are what make her so special. Neither is a persona created for the stage, it’s just the inner workings of a multi-faced human being on display.
Less than 200 invited guests were gathered in producer/mixer Bob Clearmountain’s living room-style Apogee’s Berkeley Street studio for the show, which included two music sets and an interview hosted by Jason Bentley.
During the interview, she talked about her process and how “creativity comes from limits…otherwise the sky’s the limit and you’re spinning your wheels forever.” She had her guitar strapped across her chest for the whole conversation and even played a few seconds of the first song she learned on guitar when she was 12 years old – Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung”.
She confirmed that she is working on a record with David Byrne, saying they’ve been at it for about a year and calling him “the coolest person on the planet. Period.” She says to expect a release next year.
This show was on the eve of the release date for her third record “Strange Mercy”. I’ve been in love with the first two singles off the record – “Surgeon” and “Cruel” – which are by far the catchiest songs she played (she also threw in a few tunes from her previous disc “Actor”).
It’s clear she knows her way around a pop hook and I bet she could write a Top 40 hit if she wanted to, but I think she’s made a conscious choice to be a musical explorer and carve out her own unique territory, with her voice and her guitar. And it’s fascinating to watch and inspiring.
The session will air live on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Thursday, October 6 so you can see it for yourself!
St Vincent Set List
Chloe in the Afternoon
Save Me From What I Want
Year of the Tiger