Join Tim Shiel for the St Vincent J Files, Thursday 11 August from 8pm on Double J.
This episode of the J Files takes a dive into the music of St Vincent. It was recorded before Masseduction. One of the things I like about St Vincent is her self-reflective nature. One point captured is her thoughts on albums as children. She explains how the first one is often micromanaged, but by the third you learn to let go.
One of Annie Clark from St. Vincent’s favorite guitarists is Andy Gill from Gang of Four, among the most iconic bands of the post-punk era. And one of Andy Gill’s favorite guitarists is Annie Clark. So we figured we’d put them together for a little chat. They talked about guitars, soccer tricks, Sufjan Stevens, withholding tax, politics in rock music, and the relative merits of Dr. Feelgood and the Grateful Dead.
One of the things that I was left thinking about after listening to this conversation was the difference between structured music that sticks to its form (Dr Feelgood) and free wheeling music that is unique every time (The Grateful Dead). Both artists swayed towards structure. However, what intrigues me about St. Vincent is the way in which she reworks her songs. This is epitomised by Slow Dance, which she has played acoustically, sped up and performed with piano. Although the structure stays the same, Clark seems brings something new each time.
When Annie Clark was mixing last year’s critically acclaimed Masseduction, she cut another version of the same album that she’s since dubbed MassEducation. The reworked LP, which will come out on October 12th, features only her on vocals and Thomas Bartlett on piano. She described the record in a statement as “two dear friends playing songs together with the kind of secret understanding one can only get through endless nights in New York City.”
I loved MassEduction, but the rawness of just voice and piano in this version of the album takes the music to a whole new level for me.