© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'New York,' I Love You: Hear St. Vincent's Bold New Ballad

When St. Vincent — a.k.a. Annie Clark — announced her upcoming Fear The Future Tour last week, it sure sounded like a precursor to her first new album since 2014's awesome St. Vincent. In many ways, that record felt career-defining: As catchy as it was artistically bold and ambitious, it also cemented Clark's status as one of rock's greatest living guitarists. (Speaking of tours, St. Vincent's performances in support of that record were downright mind-blowing.)

Now, as days of Internet rumors have suggested, Clark has a new single to add to the slow trickle of buildup. But "New York" takes a sharp left turn from St. Vincent, starting with the disappearance of the guitars around which so much of her sound has revolved; in their place is a lovely piano part, some dramatic strings and even a grand, layered chorus of voices. In spots, it conjures images of Tori Amos' alternately tender and twisted intimacy.

The song feels bold in other ways, too: Whereas Clark's albums tend to cast her as a forbidding, even impenetrable figure, "New York" betrays an undercurrent of melancholy and personal loss. "You're the only mother****** in the city who can stand me," she sings, and the words sting harder for the gentility of the sounds surrounding her. "New York" doesn't feel like a breakup song so much as a song sung in a just-distant-enough aftermath — a reflection tinged less with regret than with loving resignation. When you're working through the five stages of grief, there are worse conclusions to reach than "For you, darling, I'd do it all again."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)