St. Vincent has always kept her cards close to her chest.
She doesn’t divulge much about her life, as is her right. She is collected and somewhat reserved during interviews. But through her music, she is very honest. She always has been. Divulging and sharing on her own terms. Through what she does and knows best. And her sixth studio album Daddy’s Home might just be her most personal work yet.
In an album in which she takes on the alter ego of the infamous Candy Darling, Annie Clark aka St. Vincent sings a lot about her father’s arrest – the disconnect she feels, the hope and the sheer absurdness of it all. Juxtaposing it all, expressing her disbelief and even calling herself out at times, this is an album in which Clark digs deeper, and gives us more.
This album might have confused some people. And I get why. It is unlike anything she has ever offered before. And she herself must have anticipated that because when she released the first single, she also released a playlist of music of the album influences – all 70’s heavyweights like Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Nina Simone etc. Still, people were confused. But, if you have been following her music, you shouldn’t have been.
So was I surprised? No.
Did I like the album? Yes. But, and here’s the caveat – when I heard it initially I absolutely loved it. But after having heard the album a lot since it came out about a month ago, there are a few songs on it that haven’t aged well for me.
The song ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’ is a great opener. And is a great example of an artist flexing their artistic muscles. She’s good and she knows it. And in the first song, she makes sure that we do too.
Then there’s the longest song on the album ‘Live In The Dream’ which is the most Pink Floyd-esque song on the record and is, for the lack of a better word, an absolute dream.
My favourite song on the record, ‘Somebody Like Me’, features Clark’s sharpest vocals. There’s violin, gorgeous and smooth background vocals, and while Clark does question whether it’s wise to count on somebody like her, the artistry of this track provides an easy answer.
So, where does this album fall short?
There are a few tracks that left me wanting for more. Waiting for something that would elevate them. I don’t mind them, but in an album that has some absolute gems, they do dampen the listening experience a bit.
For instance the tracks ‘The Laughing Man’ and ‘At The Holiday Party’ do sound monotonous. And this is accentuated by the track placement. On their own the tracks are fine. But while listening to the entire album, I found myself, putting it simply, tired of the songs. Which is a shame because lyrically they are great, but the instrumentation and production left me wanting more. Paying homage and being inspired are great things, and she does them very well at many points on the records, but at times it does feel that St. Vincent is being lost underneath all that.
Overall though, this is a great record. St. Vincent looks back at the past, questions her present, and challenges her future. For an artist who has been rightfully called a visionary and an enigma, this is another very generous and gorgeous leap forward.
The dream lives in her, and it is truly alive.
Words by Rihaab Reyaz