The Rapture of Annie Clark

Annie Clark takes over the Parish as St. Vincent.

The buzz around St. Vincent is warranted, as her debut album Marry Me, out today, should attest. Full of religious allusions, illusions of love, and love gone cold, it’s not nearly as fluffy and stuffy as one might think from her previous collaborations – Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens.

Instead, she crawls through land mines, sees Paris burning, and lusts after holy men, making Marry Me an almost unattainable goal. And that’s precisely why it’s such an engaging listen. The beatific music is secondary to Clark’s doom-filled lyrics. On “Landmines”:

I’m crawling through landmines
I know because I planted them
Under cover of night

And on the jazzy “Human Racing”:

Romeo, where’d you go?
It’s been years and still no sign, but I’m keeping hope alive
Juliet, how you been?
You look like death, like you sure could use some rest

Yes, much of Marry Me seems conflicted and desperate. Love is the answer, according to Clark, and it’s an awfully European gesture. The early century sensibility in her songs becomes even more interesting knowing Clark is from Dallas, and was born in Tulsa, Okla., one of nine children.

Live at the Parish Saturday night, she and her band ran through most of Marry Me. Clark’s cherubic face, framed with dark curls, even looks like a saint you would see in a painting. Her spectacular, PJ-esque guitar breakdown after “Jesus Saves, I Spend,” and discordant piano crash before “Marry Me,” only added to her mystique. It’s almost as if a song can’t be too pretty; Clark has to do something to make it rough. She wears it well, though.

“What Me Worry,” the album’s closing glory, was done solo and without the whimsical, bluebird-on-my-shoulder backing. Still, the words made their way all the way into the Parish’s rafters, aided by her gilded soprano:

Have I abused you dear?
You have had it to here
You say love is just a blood match
To see you endure a slash
After lunch

There's a little Anne Sexton, a little Edith Piaf, and there's Annie Clark, just waiting for the Rapture.

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