By Stephen CarlickWith her easy-going manner and seemingly endless supply of musical creativity, people might assume that putting together an album comes easily to Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, but it's not entirely true. The Dallas native spent her early 20s as a contributing musician for the 19-member collective the Polyphonic Spree and then as a touring musician for Sufjan Stevens before releasing three increasingly successful solo albums. Her latest album, Strange Mercy, has been unanimously hailed by critics as her best yet. But Clark is keeping a level head about it. "I don't think it's the best record I'll ever make, but I think it's a good record."
Before recording, Clark temporarily relocated to Seattle, to get away from everyday life and to give herself time and space to create. Songs, however, don't just write themselves: "I think a lot of being creative is just kind of slogging along, waiting for a train," she contends. "I don't know anyone in Seattle, so I spent my days alone at the studio. I was also doing a technology cleanse, and wasn't on my phone or checking email or anything during that time. I'd become very reliant on technology, and to be alone with myself was kind of terrifying. I don't recommend it," she laughs, "but ultimately, it was rewarding."
It's rewarding for fans, as well. Strange Mercy has been called Clark's most emotional and personal record to date, largely due to the spaciousness of the arrangements and production on the record, no doubt a product of maturity and restraint. But it's her humility and work ethic that promise a bright future. "I still have more records to make," Clark declares, forthrightly, before emphasizing: "There's more music I want to make!"