I’m not going to do a top ten albums of the year list (cause I’m lazy!) because it’s pretty much a random shuffle of the albums that comprised my top ten songs depending on what I’m feeling that particular day (and I’m lazy!). But I would like to take a minute to write a short ditty about my favorite album of the year for several reasons.
St. Vincent’s Actor became increasingly important to me over the course of 2009 as I realized that more and more of the music I listen to is comprised of male musicians. Now, I’m not suggesting that one should choose the music one likes based on gender. I’m merely highlighting the importance of this artist to me and I can’t ignore that one of those reasons is her ability to play hard ball right alongside her male contemporaries.
Annie Clark is a brilliant musician and lyricist. (Whenever she sings, “I sit transfixed by a hole in your tee-shirt” I want to keel over and die at its sheer simplistic agony.) Also, she is unabashedly fearless when it comes to highlighting feelings that might make her appear unattractive. She will implore others for help on “Save Me From What I Want” (later again in “Marrow”) yet, she will return with blunt honesty to be a downright bitch on “Actor Out of Work.” She explores the gritty underbelly of being drunk and needy in “The Party,”but her quest for personal change and growth is highlighted in “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood” and “Just the Same But Brand New.”
Throughout the course of all the tracks on Actor, Ms. Clark refuses to be one thing or the other, rejects all categories, and demonstrates that, while women struggle with the various roles they are cast in, they need not play the part. The dark, droning turns in her songs shout with forceful strength, even when her voice remains sweet and soft. She is, in a word, tremendous.
In a male-dominated industry, she deserves kudos for having one of the most outstanding albums of the year. And as a female who blogs about music in a blogosphere niche where the boys come to play, Actor will always mean a great deal to me.