Strange MercyAlbum | St. Vincent By Chris Payne
Singer-guitarist continues to stretch her wings.
Miles away from the cutesy feel of her debut Marry Me, Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent, fully cements herself as a songwriter to be reckoned with on Strange Mercy. Though not nearly as left-field as artists like Dirty Projectors and tUnE-yArDs, you'll find the same aesthetic here. The guitar-wielding Clark uses her instrument of choice in some jagged, discordant ways that she then typically evens out with her gentle voice and demure persona. The album lacks a single standout track (along the lines of "The Strangers" from her last album, Actor), but each song reveals a distinct voice, whether it's from clever guitar hooks ("Cruel") or layers of synthesizer ("Northern Lights," "Cruel"). Lyrically, the Texas native pours plenty of herself into her lyrics (often even moreso than past efforts), with plenty of thought-provoking, National-esque lyrics ("I've seen America with no clothes on," she sings in "Cheerleader"). All in all, Clark has certainly come a long way as an artist since her gigs backing Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree. Given her steadily-increasing profile backed by magazine covers and national television spots, it's quite reassuring that there's still a place on the stage for this kind of honest, artistically-forward music.