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#67

St Vincent

“I thought I was through with this day. All I wanted to do was unplug the phone, pour myself a bourbon, glance through the clippings concerning a particular case, just to check, and switch off the lights except for the old lamp on my desk. Maybe I’ll fall asleep right here, in my office. So there I was, sitting alone in the feeble light and silence, when she came in. Annie. She did not knock before she entered the room but quietly closed the door and turned towards me. I was barely able to see her, but I could imagine her large eyes, her smile. She whispered an ethereal ‘Hello’, her voice mingling with the plumes of smoke. The night had just begun…”

The Black Dahlia . That was my first thought when Annie Clark came into the office. I could not really imagine her before I actually met her, but there she was, standing upright in front of us, smiling, delightfully old-fashioned. Shiny stilettos, a straight skirt, a jacket cut just above the waist, huge eyes and wild hair. As if she had just gotten out from an old movie, or from another dimension. She looked amazing, but there was much more to come.

We led her to an apartment overlooking the rooftops of Paris, a boudoir full of old Chinese-style furniture, faded photographs, eaves and loads of books stacked up on shelves covering the walls. The place was filled by her cinematic presence. Whether on a balcony with a panoramic view on Paris, or lying down on a silk bedspread, the whole place resounded with her voice, humming Bowie’s “Five Years” when the silence was too sweltering. We were all fascinated–well, let’s say it, completely mesmerized. Of course, we overacted a bit, and so did she. Annie was acting coy, but only because we egged her on.

When you listen to “Marry Me”, you immediately think about how Annie Clark collects bits and pieces from every kind of woman, trying and be all of them. In this album—which is almost a little too dense–one can see a bit of PJ Harvey, a dash of Feist, something of these old-fashioned female jazz singers…but also angry and loving women, women who embody all of these characteristics. The record is so condensed that we wondered what Annie would do on her own. Yet she convinced us that her bare songs could stand up just as well without all the tricks she used on the album. When we saw her walking around in the apartment, beating on glasses, humming in the street, trying to play with everything, it became obvious that the “excess” we saw in her album is not so much pretension as it is the urge to experiment and meddle with everything.

Or maybe not: maybe for an hour we just pretended, and she had us under her thumb.

Translated by Nora