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St. Vincent - Daddy’s Home Music Album Reviews

St. Vincent - Daddy’s Home Music Album Reviews
Annie Clark brings the glammy sounds of the ’70s to an album about mothers and daughters, fathers and prison. It’s an audacious and deeply personal record occasionally beset by clunky choices.

When St. Vincent announced Daddy’s Home by wheat-pasting Who’s Your Daddy? onto a concrete wall, she wasn’t just launching an ad campaign. She was revealing a brand new self. She’s done this before, as the delicate butterfly of Sufjan’s touring band, a self-styled “near-future cult leader,” and the leather-and-latex domme of 2017’s Masseduction. Annie Clark is no stranger to being a stranger. An immense talent with an impeccable track record, her meticulous craft is matched by a Bowian gift for shapeshifting. Every world-building detail on Daddy’s Home, her album-length tribute to ’70s rock’n’roll, is executed with chameleonic precision; not a note or a hair on her Candy Darling wig is out of place. It is her most personal record to date, telling the story of her father’s incarceration and her own fear of parenthood. It is delivered entirely in costume.

The best and truest moments on Daddy’s Home are when Clark refuses to play wife or mother. “I went to the park just to watch the little children,” she sings, on “Pay Your Way in Pain.” “The mothers saw my heels and they said I wasn’t welcome.” Her character exists as a hairline fracture apart from the women who watch over their children like helicopters. On “Somebody Like Me,” she bristles at strolling “straight down the aisle”—and pointedly makes a meal out of “straight,” turning the word into a slippery vocal run.

These are time-honored themes for St. Vincent. Her 2007 debut was titled Marry Me; back then, she invited her lover to “do what Mary and Joseph did/Without the kid.” On Daddy’s Home, she’s even more adamant. Stand-out “My Baby Wants a Baby” is laden with worry that having offspring—or failing to do so—will obliterate her own identity. “No one will scream that song I made,” she sings, “won’t throw no roses on my grave,” as her voice, and her back-up singers’ voices, rush frantically toward the climax: “They’ll just look at me and say: Where’s your baby?”

In the work of writers like Elena Ferrante, Joanne Ramos, and Sheila Heti, alternatives to motherhood are presented as aspirational: an education, a fulfilling career, a loving (and childless) partnership. Daddy’s Home bucks this trend. The album’s protagonist is no budding girlboss; she wants a kind of dangerous freedom. The breathtaking ballad “Live in the Dream” narrates someone reviving after an overdose only to succumb in a milky fog of sitar. The singer of “Down and Out Downtown” chases highs and crashes, again and again, between kisses. She’s found love, but it, too, is the dangerous kind. (“911? I’m in love.”) Her partner changes the locks, “drops the scene,” drives her to “suicidal ideation”—unrequited love on the level of the queen of Carthage.

But Clark remains steadfast: “I wanna play guitar all day,” she sings, “make all my meals in microwaves.” She’d rather be a child than bear one. Men embrace this wish without apology; she’s forced to justify it at length. She worries that her yearning for absolute freedom makes her wicked, irredeemable, that she’s got something of her wayward father in her. If she had a baby, she tells her lover, “I couldn’t leave like my daddy.” She resents him for his departure; she yearns for the same careless abandon that he had.

This brings us, finally, to the album’s title track, “Daddy’s Home.” Clark says the song refers to her father’s 12-year incarceration for his role in a $43 million stock manipulation scheme. The indignity of her father’s imprisonment was, no doubt, doubled by the whole world learning about it. She’s been candid about the experience while doing press for Daddy’s Home and to her credit, Clark has clearly done her research on mass incarceration. She’s cited statistics about the effects of the prison-industrial complex on Black Americans. During visitation in her father’s prison, she says, families were invited to pose against a backdrop of a plantation veranda. It seems clear that she wishes to empathize with the Black community and critique the prison system.

But dissonance appears on Daddy’s Home whenever Clark’s louche time-traveling character collides with the political tensions of the present day. It’s odd, for example, that two songs on the album refer to calling “the cops,” or 911, in light of the past year’s uprisings against police brutality. A reference to Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” in “The Melting of the Sun” is similarly ill-considered. Like Hozier before her, Clark dilutes Simone’s fierce and intentional anti-racist activism by listing her alongside white celebrities. The album’s title track deploys a sticky bassline, a syncopated funk groove, and the voices of seasoned Black back-up singers Kenya Hathaway and Lynne Fiddmont to tell the story of Clark and her father, a white man who committed a white-collar crime. Why deploy the conventions of Black music to reckon with his sins? Why wear a mask at all?

In 2011, long before it broke in tabloids and became public knowledge, St. Vincent wrote “Strange Mercy,” a plaintive song about her father’s incarceration. The imagery of the song is simple, evocative. “Our father in exile,” she sings. “When you see him, wave through double pane.” It’s hard to forget, once you’ve heard it, her delivery of the song’s bridge, through gritted teeth: “If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up, no, I… I don’t know what.” She is alone at the microphone. She sounds like nobody but herself.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
St. Vincent - Daddy’s Home Music Album Reviews St. Vincent - Daddy’s Home Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Rating: 5

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