Non-Nordic Sunday: St Vincent (USA) - Pay your way in pain (track from forthcoming album)
Happy returns for St Vincent, who has been unusually quiet since her sixth studio album, 2017’s ‘Masseduction’, apart from writing and producing for the likes of Taylor Swift and Sleater-Kinney,designing a guitar of her own specifically for small, light women, just like her, and flirting with Dua Lipa at a Grammy performance. Then, in typical Annie Clark style this, the first single from her forthcoming seventh album, ‘Daddy’s Home’ (release date 14th May), was dropped on an unsuspecting public last week.
The subject matter of ‘Daddy’s Home’ is partly a ‘past’ derelict, sleazy, down and out New York, which she now calls home, having bought an apartment there a few years ago simply because she had no permanent roof over her head, She was literally ‘no fixed abode’. Unfortunately, Annie doesn’t seem to have noticed that New York is becoming derelict all over again just now, with 18 people shot on one day last weekend. So from that point of view the consensus seems to be that, to coin a phrase, she’s the Daddy.
On the other hand, there is a literal daddy, and he actually did come home, in the winter of 2019.From prison. This is a story that’s new to me and I’ve followed her for a while. It broke during the period she was dating English singer-dancer-actress-model Cara Delevingne, which excited the tabloid hacks but the jail story never occupied much newsprint over here. It seems daddy, who is referred to as ‘Inmate 502’ on the album, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2010 for his involvement in a $43 million stock fraud scheme.
That prompted Annie Clark to write her third album ‘Strange Mercy’ in 2011 and it was inspired not only by her father’s imprisonment but the effects it had on her life and those of her family. There is always an air of mystery about Annie, as David Byrne once remarked, having toured an album with her.
But this isn’t Crimewatch so back to the business in hand. On this track she sings about the price we pay for searching for acceptance while being outcast from society, which is now daddy’s lot. “So I went to the park just to watch the little children/The mothers saw my heels and they said I wasn’t welcome/ So I, I went back home, I was feelin' kinda queasy/But all the locks were changed, my baby wouldn't see me”.
At the end of the day, as she screams out, all she wants is to be loved.
In a recent interview she said, “I like to create a world and then I get to live in it and be somebody new every two or three years. “Who wants to be themselves all the time?”
And so the reinvention goes on, she’ll likely eclipse Madonna in that category before long. There is no semblance whatsoever between the musical style in which ‘Strange Mercy’ was written and this song, nor is there any physical comparison to what was still a shy young woman in 2011, who often performed sat cross-legged on the floor. (It was really on her 2014 eponymously-named album that the aggressive in-your-face persona first appeared, previously she wouldn’t say boo to a goose).
Now she’s a Debbie Harry-style blonde, with the physical appearance of actress Sondra Locke while somehow managing to look like both an aspiring Democrat Congresswoman (I wasn’t thinking particularly of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but you get the drift) and a minx.
Musically, while the trademark fuzzy guitar remains in place this performance could be any one of Bowie, Prince or Kate Bush at various times while also being like no-one else.
Like many of her songs this one takes a couple of hearings to get into the groove with but when you do you’ll be hooked.