Ahead of Her Time

St. Vincent Breaks From the Pack



Multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark is only 23 years old, and already she has played guitar with the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' touring band, opened as a solo artist—under the name St. Vincent—for the Arcade Fire, and released her debut album, Marry Me, on the esteemed Beggars Banquet Records.

Clearly, she's ahead of her time. A Dallas, Texas native and middle sibling of nine children, Clark, at the age of 15, managed tours for her uncle, jazz musician Tuck Andress, qualified for Glenn Branca's 100 Guitar Orchestra, and, recently, prompted David Bowie's pianist, Mike Garson, to play on her new album.

Still in her early 20s, she's only just begun. Clark's first proper introduction to the world, Marry Me, achieves what most can't in three albums. With the bombast of a full orchestra and the sensuality of a bedroom record, Marry Me is a confident, witty album led by beautiful soprano vocals and backed by a barrage of grandiose instrumentation.

With the exception of Garson and Brian Teasley (from Man or Astro-Man) showing up on a couple tracks, Marry Me is arranged and performed entirely by Clark. Delicate and prodding, then stabbing and stammering, St. Vincent songs are made of guitars, bass, piano, synth, string, and programming; the result is at once endearing and exhilarating, bright and dark.

Sometimes big and baroque, sometimes sweet and poppy, Clark's music is consistently engaging, easily luring in lovers of classical arrangements, slashing strings, and breezy pop cuts. Her lyrics are bittersweet, switching briskly from naïve to cynical. "You don't mean that/Say you're sorry," she pleads on "Now Now" before turning: "I'll make you sorry."

In so little time, she's done so much. A musician truly committed to originality, Clark has separated herself from the pack, claiming her identity amid a heady scene. Keep an eye on this one—there's no doubt much more to come.


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