She may induce elemental wonder, but Annie Clark is no meteorologist. ‘By my humble estimation, it’s 175 Fahrenheit here today,’ affirms Clark – aka cinematic sorceress St Vincent – of her prevailing Atlanta, Georgia vicinity. A quick metric conversion suggests this equals roughly 80 Centigrade and, as such, is highly improbable.
St Vincent’s smouldering lounge-pop, however, revels in atmospheric excess. An erstwhile affiliate of choral rock mob The Polyphonic Spree and former conscript of Sufjan Stevens’ backing flock, Clark’s entrancing solo art spans gentle electro, errant torch songs, spectral trip hop and ambient alt.rock. Her second solo album, Actor, was released in May this year, to rapture.
Drawing inspiration from Clark’s favourite movies – Pierrot le Fou, The Wizard of Oz and tree-house blood-bath Badlands among them – Actor negotiates filmic vistas, eerie dominions and fantasy arias. Its stunning arrangements and dexterous narratives hail Igor Stravinsky, Ennio Morricone, Philip Roth and David Mamet. Our Oklahoman heroine breaks from her coffee, and eagerly augments this cultural litany. ‘Werner Herzog, Walt Disney, Woody Allen, Jenny Holzer, Charles Bukowski …’ she relates.
And what of Dylan Thomas? Is there truth in the rumour that Clark’s nom de plume is a tribute to the Welsh rhapsodist’s place of death? ‘God rest his soul,’ she deadpans in a flash. ‘It is also the middle name of my great-grandmother,’ she adds.
Yet, Clark’s celluloid and bookish fascinations are not at the expense of her musical prowess. A star guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and provocative vocalist, St Vincent thrives on live terrain – as previous tour supports for the Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie and The National have ascertained.
Transpires our protagonist is even set on single-handedly flipping the financial downturn. There’s a lot to be said for ‘musical conservation’ as a profitable ideology, she elucidates. Then she barks a recession-bashing rawk manifesto. ‘Got a melody? Double time it and use it again! Chords? Transpose! Invert! Re-harmonise!
‘Lots of math! Lots of fractals!’ charges Clark with a laugh. She may not be an economist, or a physicist, or a meteorologist, but St Vincent’s glittering fortune is firmly written in the stars.
Nice’n’Sleazy, Glasgow, Tue 14 Jul