St. Vincent returns with the beautiful Strange Mercy

St. Vincent
Strange Mercy
Release Date: September 13, 2011
4AD / Beggars Group

Ms. Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) returns with a refreshing third album entitled Strange Mercy.  Annie’s indie rock darling status is not in jeopardy.  Far from it.  It almost feels like a return of sorts to the songwriter that wowed us with Marry Me. Rather than composing on a laptop for her first album, Annie concentrated on the lyrics and guitar.  Striped down with minimal embellishments, unlike the heavily orchestrated sophomore effort, Actor, Annie wanted to be straightforward.

“I wanted to make things direct and immediate,” Clark says.  “I didn’t tinker.  I tried to keep the arrangements pretty simple and use just enough instrumentation to get the point across.  I didn’t want anything to get in the way.”

On the opening track “Chloe in the Afternoon”, there are guitar riffs that tremble into a delicious cacophony arising from a swirl of high vocals.  The second single from the album, “Cruel“, brings back hints of Actor with a sprinkling of woodwinds and bounces to an infectious guitar melody.  On “Cheerleader”, Annie laments “I I I, I don’t wanna be a cheerleader no more / I’ve played dumb when I knew better / Tried too hard just to be clever. ”  Her songwriting on this album encompasses more singing than her past two albums.  It’s a treat to hear Annie’s vocals, though not to fear her prowess as a guitarist is fully intact.  Annie really lays it out there with “Northern Lights” as she shreds over pounding drums.  Annie’s vocals anchor the down tempo “Champagne Year” with lyrics,  like ” I make a living telling people what they want to hear”.  Her ethereal voice is spotlighted against sparse instrumentation.  “Dilettante” continues with sweet vocals juxtaposed against cranking guitars.

Annie is always evolving and Strange Mercy is only one of the many albums that will define an extraordinary musical career.  You can listen to the full album streaming currently at NPR.

Track list
Chloe in the Afternoon
Northern Lights
Strange Mercy
Neutered Fruit
Champagne Year
Hysterical Strength
Year of the Tiger

Tour dates
9.30 – New York, NY / New Yorker Festival

10.2 – Minneapolis, MN / McGuire Theatre
10.3 – Milwaukee, WI / Pabst Theatre
10.5 – Chicago, IL / The Metro
10.6 – St. Louis, MO / Old Rock House
10.7 – Lawrence, KS / Liberty Hall
10.8 – Boulder, CO / Boulder Theatre
10.10 – Salt Lake City, UT / Urban Lounge
10.12 – Vancouver, BC / Commodore Ballroom
10/13 –  Seattle, WA / Neptune Theatre
10/14 – Portland, OR / Crystal Ballroom
10/16 – San Francisco, CA / Treasure Island Festival
10/18 – Los Angeles / Music Box
10.20 – Phoenix, AZ / Crescent Ballroom
10.23 – Dallas, TX / Kessler Theatre
10.24 – Austin, TX / Moody Theatre @ ACL Live
10.25 – Houston, TX / Fitzgerald’s
10.26 – New Orleans, LA / Tipitina’s (Uptown)
10.28 – Atlanta, GA / The EARL
10.29 – Asheville, NC / Moogfest
10.30 – Charlottesville, VA / Jefferson Theatre

11.1 – Washington, DC / 9:30 Club
11.2 – Philadelphia, PA / Union Transfer
11.3 – New York, NY / Webster Hall
11/4 – Boston, MA / Royale

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