Album Review: St. Vincent – ‘Daddy’s Home’

Taking us on a tour through the lives of a varied cast of downtrodden characters, St. Vincent’s newest full-length is a beautifully organic, retro-pop triumph. Amber Frost immerses herself in the warm, lo-fi hum of the singer’s latest creative left-turn, Daddy’s Home.

Annie Clark (known professionally as St. Vincent) has traded the electro-pop for a frenzied retro sound in her sixth studio album Daddy’s Home. The album as a concept is a reflection on Clark’s relationship with her father, who was released from prison in 2019. Thus, the lyrical context is emotionally charged and shows Clark’s more vulnerable side, yet the overall ambiance of the album is similar to that of David Bowie’s Thin White Duke with dashes of The Beatle’s Revolver. The use of pop-synths merged with the beautifully intrusive sitar creates some sort of post-flower-child idealism.

Whilst the tones of her father’s release are exclusive to the album title (Daddy’s Home) and the song of the same name, his presence can still be found throughout. It’s unsurprising then when in an interview with NME Clark states that the album’s sound was “inspired by his record collection,” and so it may be reasonable to suggest that the overall concept of the album’s sound is a homage to her father: though more gritty ‘dirt under the fingernails’ than lovingly gentle, it is a homage nonetheless.

‘It goes without saying that St. Vincent has taken elements of all her musical heroes and sprinkled them throughout this album.’

Pay Your Way In Pain opens the album, it launches its listeners straight into a seventies synth-driven funk. It’s abundant with Clark’s influences: the opening piano line gives a gentle nod towards Prince, yet in a matter of seconds this is ripped away and the St. Vincent we are familiar with gives way. If it weren’t for the modern production element of this album, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that this song and the album that follows it is straight out of another era. It certainly sounds as though co- producer Jack Antonoff (Bleachers, FUN, Steel Train) had an exhilarating time producing this album.

A stand-alone track is Live in the Dream, which takes you on an audible journey that is abundant with colour. This track immediately takes psychedelic pop to the next level as the intertwinings of Pink Floyd meld with St Vincent’s already hypnotic voice. The song is incredibly immersive, “welcome, child, you’re free from the cage” echoes throughout and emulates a feeling of waking up from a deep, long sleep or a coma. Live in the Dream isn’t the only Pink Floyd-inspired track, as The Melting of The Sun begins with a not-so-subtle, “Hello my dark side of the moon.” Yet this track takes a new direction with the beautifully rich vocal accompaniment of Lynne Fiddmont and Kenya Hathaway. The Melting of the Sun directly references some more of Clark’s musical heroes: Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos. It goes without saying that St. Vincent has taken perhaps elements of all her musical heroes and sprinkled them throughout this album, but it’s served her well in creating a new sound that hopefully we get to hear more of from future releases.

My Baby Wants a Baby is the modern feminists’ 9 to 5 (Sheena Easton). Whilst Clark revisits the idea of whether she wants to enter that endless cycle of familial trauma, she also tells the tale of not becoming what society has planned for her and becoming a woman who works for herself, not her family. The warmth of the Wurlitzer synth again really hones in the conceptual idea of a ‘retro’ sound world. Each instrument used throughout really adds to the album and doesn’t feel like it’s just been thrown in for effect.

It goes without saying, but Clark’s poetic lyricism has matured and improved tremendously over her years as a musician. This doesn’t mean she can’t and won’t have fun with the sounds she implores however, as Daddy’s Home proves St. Vincent to be an extremely creative, multi-talented musician that is capable of capturing vulnerable moments through several different personas that we have seen with each album release.

Written by: Amber Frost

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Featured image courtesy of St. Vincent via Facebook.