Album: St. Vincent

Marry Me (Beggars Banquet)
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As might be expected from the first lieutenant of Sufjan Stevens's live band, Marry Me contains shedloads of the kind of strange sonic strategies and peculiar, eclectic arrangements absent from the Hard-Fi album. St Vincent is the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark, who manages to combine the unruffled poise and elegant jazz chords of Joni Mitchell (on the shimmering torch-song "Landmines") with the avant-garde orchestration, and waspish guitar of Frank Zappa (on "Your Lips Are Red"), and still retain the essential melodic appeal of her songs. Elsewhere, kalimba-style flurries of damped guitar notes, woodwind and ska offbeats enliven "Human Racing", and tumbling grand piano and angelic choir illuminate "All My Stars Aligned", while "Paris Is Burning", a depiction of a latter-day revolutionary uprising in which "leaden trumpets spit the soot of power", is set to a Brecht/Weill-style oompah cabaret waltz – all influences handled with a practiced ease by Clark as she brings fresh imagination to such songs of religious interpretation as "The Apocalypse Song" and the droll "Jesus Saves, I Spend".

Download this: 'Landmines', 'Marry Me', 'Paris Is Burning'