Album of The Week (1/16/23): Daddy's Home - St. Vincent
Over the last few months, I have been compiling a long list of favorite albums that I can genuinely say I love all the way through or have some kind of emotional attachment to. These albums come from a wide range of genres and eras of my life, and I'm looking forward to reflecting on one at the beginning of each week. I hope to encourage others to listen to these albums and would love to have discussions about any impressions, emotions, or reactions that are generated.
To select which album to write about each week, I'm going totally random. I've entered 150 albums into an online random selector:
Once I write about an album, I'll remove it from the list. If I've already written about an album in a previous blog post for some reason, I'll acknowledge that it was picked and remove it from the list and spin again. Other than that, I won't ever spin again and I won't add to the list until I've made it through all 150. To be honest, there are some I'm nervous to write about, whether because I'm not sure how to talk about it, because it represents such a different phase of my life, or because I'm worried other people won't agree with my love for it. But that's not the point of music. To me, the purpose of music is to hear it, feel it, love it, let it affect me however it's going to, and to hopefully connect with another human being about it.
So, here we go.
Week 1 (Jan. 16, 2023)
Album: Daddy's Home
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: May 14, 2021
Link to Purchase: https://stvincent.bandcamp.com/album/daddys-home
Down and Out Downtown
...At The Holiday Party
Annie Clark, known as St. Vincent, has been a huge hero of mine since late high school, when I first heard her album Actor. An incredible performer, songwriter, lyricist, vocalist, and guitarist, Clark constantly inspires me with each new album and especially the couple of times I've been lucky enough to see her perform live.
Like all of her releases, Daddy's Home is distinctive from the others. Sonically, this album pays homage to '70's rock 'n roll, packed with rich, psychedelic, warm textures and tones (for example, "Live In The Dream," to me, is strikingly similar to Pink Floyd's "Us and Them"). Electric sitar weaves its way through several of the tracks, and the classic, wobbly crunch of a Wurlitzer lays the foundation for many of the songs. This album is deeply personal in subject matter - the title refers to Clark's father being released from prison after a 12-year incarceration for his involvement in a $43 million stock manipulation scheme, while "My Baby Wants A Baby" explores fears and contemplation surrounding motherhood. Clark has been very vocal about her father's incarceration and there are many articles that delve into this subject matter if you're interested in reading further. Particularly, the Pitchfork review goes into some criticism of the dissonances of subject matter on the record surrounding the prison/law enforcement system which I hadn't considered before.
"Daddy's Home" is my favorite track on the album. Musically, I love the deep, slow groove, the vocal inflections, guitar tones, and wobbly, psychedelic textures. Another favorite of mine is "Down And Out Downtown," with its smooth vocal delivery accented by the unique sound of electric sitar. Finally, I really love the song "...At The Holiday Party." What makes this song so special is the brass arranging that helps create its feel-good, immersive texture and carries the song to its climactic end. I like that Daddy's Home feels and sounds so cohesive in its overall sound, a clear tribute to the '70s, but each track still has a freshness and uniqueness to it.
Beyond her recorded albums, what really inspires me most about St. Vincent is her incredible sense of stage presence and the carefully crafted experience of seeing her perform live. I saw her on the Daddy's Home tour on Sep. 18, 2021 at Mission Ballroom in Denver. What first struck me upon entering the venue was the awesome, effective stage design. Something as simple as a rotating platform provided so much interest throughout the show, with different props and backdrops appearing as the night unfolded. Clark and her band of all-star musicians (Rachel Eckroth, Mark Guiliana, Jason Falkner, Justin Meldal-Johhson, Stevvi Alexander, Nayanna Holley, and Danielle Withers) were all clad in '70s inspired clothing and an actress dressed a waitress provided frequent, entertaining interludes. Clark's energy and interaction with her bandmates was incredibly engaging as an audience member. I will always remember how much this particular show demonstrated to me the importance of considering the entire presentation of a live music event. Beyond just the solid, incredible musicianship of this band, the care that was put into the visual, theatrical, performance elements of the concert made it one of the most memorable live music experiences of my life so far.
If you haven't heard Daddy's Home, I hope you'll feel inclined to check it out. Having done some more reading about it myself, I'm looking forward to listening to the album intently again, considering new information and perspectives I've learned from interviews and reviews. As always, thank you for reading, and if you listen, please let me know your thoughts.