The Powerfull Collaboration That Grows With Every Listen
Some forces are just too powerful to put together. The results are not always favorable. Either one force overpowers another or the whole thing blows up in your face. When we first heard about the collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent, we knew it would be either disastrous or mind blowing. We had the same feeling last December with the giant Hadron collider. People were worried black hole would be produced, or another big bang. Luckily, both of the experiments, the hadron collider and the Byrne/St. Vincent were very successful and created elements the world has never witnessed before. It is ok people; you can come out of your bunker and fire up your turntable!
The opening track “Who” plows out of the gate with a baritone sax and Byrnes trademark vocals. Clarks haunting voice handles back up and the chorus. It’s clear from the start that this unlikely pairing works better than anyone could have thought.
What is clearly absent from the tracks is Clark’s guitar shredding talent. The full horns section fills the void well. This is especially prevalent on the top track from the first side, “Dinner for Two.” The vocal harmonies are exceptional on this track as well.
Rounding out side A are Byrne’s “I am an Ape,” which dares the listener not to start grooving along with the horns. “The Forest Awakes” is the only track that Clark sings Byrne’s lyrics. A blaring trumpet keeps the song flowing while hinting at familiar vibes of St. Vincent’s last release, “Strange Mercy.”
Clark’s voice is stronger than we have heard before. In “Lazarus” we are treated not only to an amplified vocal track from Clark, thick overdubs “cool water” over Byrne’s voice. The chemistry of these two voices is best showcased on this track.
Side B leads off with Clark’s best contribution, the tender “Optimist” which continues her new found confidence in her voice.
The non-stop use of the horns grows just a bit tired until the listener is treated to the best brass creating music today. The Dap Kings provide the energy on “The One Who Broke Your Heart.” Their timing and musicianship are always welcome contributions, and we wish they would have been there from the start. Byrne’s vocals are beautiful as here as well.
The final track on the album, “Outside of Space and Time” is a great love song closer, with more tech-beeps than a David Bowie song. The horns finish up the album just as they came into it.
Perhaps the only area where the album comes up short is the lack of guitar work. Clark has become so well known for her unique style that it is easy to hear the absence throughout the tracks. While the horns do their best to fill the void, there are several points where a little digging in could add to the song.
4AD St. Vincent’s’ home label has produced a beautiful release. The jacket is a bright two texture gatefold with amazing pictures and a thick inner jacket. 4AD has always taken pride in their physical releases, and “Love This Giant” is no exception.
You can get “Love This Giant” from your local independent record store or the 4AD website.