St Vincent – Daddy’s Home
If many acts named their latest album after their father’s release from prison (following a multi-million dollar stock fraud), one would probably chuck it in the bin as a product of ill-gotten privilege. Somehow Annie Clark, or St Vincent as she’s known, is different – partly because she’s a genre-floating musician who can use her guitar like a pickaxe or an accoutrement to other instruments, but mainly because her latest, Daddy’s Home, is that rare thing: a labour of personal exploration that’s just lots of fun.
Opener Pay Your Way in Pain sets out the record’s eclectic stall. A brief Kinks or even Stevie Wonder-like piano line begins, before it wanders into electro-rock and an infectious chorus, clearly inspired by David Bowie. The song that follows, Down and Out Downtown, would sound like Morcheeba doing George Harrison but for Clark’s clear understanding of how vocals can illuminate a song.
Title track Daddy’s Home arrives next as the first hint of true personal introspection. With its jazz-funk take on meeting one’s dad again as a star, there’s a weird universality to its themes. Life will never be what was imagined – whether this is a rockstar signing autographs in a prison waiting room or not, everyone is disappointed by the absurdity of it all.
The middle section could do without the echoes of Pink Floyd on The Melting of the Sun and The Laughing Man, and its humming interludes could probably have been kept for a deluxe version. However, from sharp-vocalled, funky eighth track Down, things get gladly silly and inspirational again. Somebody Like Me is a beautifully simplistic but soulful piece of loveliness, while My Baby Wants a Baby unsubtly, but joyously, takes its inspiration from Sheena Easton’s wonderful karaoke standard 9 to 5 (Morning Train).
Daddy’s Home’s concluding two tracks are less spectacular, but great all the same: …At the Holiday Party takes one back to the 1990s and the mainstream aftermath of neo-soul, while Candy Darling, a tribute to The Velvet Underground’s trans muse of the same name, is a fittingly light but morose conclusion.
It’s a cliché to call anything a “coming-of-age album” the moment it becomes obvious that an act is more than a nice haircut and the odd good tune. Daddy’s Home is the opposite: it’s from an artist whose accomplishments are well known (but who has sometimes been difficult to love) showing herself to her audience, and it’s incredibly enjoyable.
Daddy’s Home is released on 14th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit St Vincent’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Pay Your Way in Pain here: