St. Vincent puts her spin on classic genres and hones into music of the 70’s by combining glam rock, funk and even early punk in her latest record “Daddy’s Home.”
Before the album dropped, songwriter Annie Clark, who operates under the stage name St. Vincent, released a playlist of songs that inspired her album. The compilation included cuts from Lou Reed, Dolly Parton, David Bowie, and Nina Simone, and, while it would seem hard to blend the influences of all these artists, Clark does it in an innovative and refreshing way.
The title of the album stems from Clark’s father’s release from prison. In the album’s title track, she sings “we’re all born innocent, but some good saints get screwed /Well, hell, where can you run when the outlaws inside you.”
Clark foreshadows how deeply personal this album will be by peeling away layers of herself in each track.
Like much of Clark’s music, “Daddy’s Home” is full of introspection and vulnerability. She touches on themes of death, nostalgia, revenge, and isolation in tracks like “Pay Your Way in Pain” and “Down.” Each of these topics is approached from an honest perspective, true to the voice of Clark and her experiences.
One of the standout tracks, “The Melting of the Sun” is very heavily inspired by Pink Floyd and that is apparent by how full it is of shimmery guitar riffs. She even pays homage in the opening lines, “So sorry, missed the party /Hello on the dark side of the moon.”
Clark then goes on to pay tribute to many of the great female musicians in history. “The Melting of the Sun” is a love letter to these trailblazers who inspired songwriters and artists alike. From Joni Mitchell to Nina Simone and Tori Amos, Clark sings of their legacies and the poor treatment they experienced in the music industry.
In a sense, the whole album is an ode to people, experiences or places that Clark draws inspiration from. She takes pivotal moments of her life and elaborates on them by turning them into ballads of tribute.
On “Down and Out Downtown,” a track dedicated to the chaos that encompasses the lifestyle of a young person in New York City, Clark combines blues and psychedelic instrumentals. The result teleports the listener into the fog and dreamy haze of the world Clark has constructed.
The theme of a psychedelic dream states returns on the track “Live in the Dream,” with sitar-like accompaniment reminiscent of The Beatles’ “White Album.”
Some of Clarks most beautiful lyrics blossom in this track.
“Cause there’s a lot of people here that want to do you harm /But stay with me/ you fallen lamb /And I’ll keep you in my arms,” Clark sings these lyrics in the form of ethereal vocal harmonies. A hazy guitar solo ties “Live in the Dream” together and packages it into one of the most stunning tracks on the album.
Clark almost moves into a new decade on her track “Down,” which has elements of 80’s new wave, as well as early punk. To be blunt, Clark does not care on this song.
“Tell me who hurt you /No, wait I don’t care /To hear an excuse why you think you can be so cruel,” she sings.
This is Clark at the peak of her prowess. She is confident in her sound and her promise of vengeance.
“Down” is the antithesis of the sorrowful melancholy of the song “The Laughing Man,” which is about a childhood friend of Clarks who passed away. One of the simplest yet most poignant lines on the album emerges from this song.
“I know you’re gone, you left the scene /Heaven had more important things /But I can’t sleep…If life’s a joke then I’m dyin’ laughin’,” Clark sings.
Her lyrics painfully capture what loss feels like, while still maintaining a bittersweet tone. It’s hard to accurately pay homage to a loved one who’s passed away, and often it’s even more difficult to encompass who they really were. However, Clark makes sure the listener can feel the joy and laughter she felt with her friend.
“Daddy’s Home” is an impressive collection of mementos of Clark’s life and each song is a tribute to part of her identity. It’s the lyricism and songwriting that makes this album so profound and allow the listener to understand who she really is.