“Most of these songs are about flawed people, just doing their best to get by..." - hmv.com talks to St. Vincent
Four years on from the release of her critically-acclaimed fifth album Masseduction, Annie Clark - better known by her stage name St. Vincent - returns with a brand new album that may be her most personal to date.
Inspired in part by her father's release from a long stretch in prison in 2019, St. Vincent's new album Daddy's Home tackles the story in her own inimitable style, set to a musical backdrop of inventive, retro-styled pop inspired by the music of the early 1970s.
Co-produced once again with Bleachers mainman Jack Antonoff, who also worked on the new album's predecessor, Daddy's Home makes its arrival in stores on Friday (May 14) and ahead of its release we caught up with Annie for a chat about the music that inspired the album's sound and the catharsis of telling her story in her own words...
When did you start and finish work on the new album? Obviously the pandemic has put a lot of things on ice, have you had it ready to go for a while?
“I started before the pandemic hit actually, and did a lot of the work in my home studio, so we weren’t impacted too much in the process of completing the record.”
You’ve said that the new album and its title were inspired by your father’s incarceration and subsequent release from prison. It’s a very candid way to address something very personal, was this a more difficult album to write because of that?
“As the story had already come out in bits and pieces over the years, it didn’t feel like I was saying anything for the first time, more that I was telling MY story – with nuance, humour, and compassion.”
It must’ve been a difficult thing to have happening in your life while your career was taking off, with touring and everything else – was it sort of cathartic getting it all down on paper?
“I’m very proud of the album and getting to make it was one of the best experiences of my life, but it’s important to note that “Daddy’s Home” has further implications. It’s very much about my own transition into taking up that space, like I’m the daddy now, both personally and professionally. Getting THAT down paper was cathartic.”
How do you think that has manifested in terms of the lyrical themes on the new album? The songs we’ve heard so far seem to deal a lot with the idea of redemption – would you agree?
“Most of these songs are about flawed people, just doing their best to get by.”
Were there any particular tracks that set the direction of the rest of the album?
“Well, the album is set in NYC between 1971-1976, after the flower children idealism, but before the escapism and static excess of disco. Downtown Manhattan you had the combo of rock jazz blues funk soul. It was very sophisticated but you didn’t know it. It was just good. Songs like 'Daddy’s Home' or 'Down And Out Downtown' really sum up that theme.”
A press release for the album also mentioned the influence of your dad’s vinyl collection and stuff from the early 70s?
“Oh yes, absolutely – I grew up listening to tons of artists from the 70s. My first concert ever was Steely Dan, and I’ve seen them many times since then.”
You worked with Jack Antonoff again on the new album - given the nature of the subject matter, was it important to work with someone you’d already established a creative relationship with?
“Jack is one of my best friends and we work very well together. I think we would have worked together on this album regardless of the subject matter.”
What was Jack able to bring to the table as a writing partner and co-producer? What makes him a good fit for you, more generally?
“In addition to being a great musician and all that brings, Jack is an amazing cheerleader for the artists he works with. It sometimes feels like he’s a bigger fan of my ideas than I am, and that’s a great thing to have in a producer.”
Obviously it’s very difficult to plan tours and things at the moment but are you looking forward to taking the new songs out on the road?
“There is nothing in the world that I’m more looking forward to than getting on a stage to play this album for people.”
Daddy's Home is available in stores from Friday May 14 - you can also find it here in our online store.