25 September 2023


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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By St. Vincent, Caroline Australia 2018.

This album is the companion piece to Last Year’s release MASSEDUCATION.

If you’re confused by the similarity in the titles of the two albums then let me explain that the capitalised album was a full band release but this one is the same songs performed by Annie Clarke with accompaniment only by pianist Thomas Bartlett.

The album was recorded live in the Electric Lady studio in August 2017 while the full band album was being mixed.

I have not heard the full band MASSEDUCATION album but the performances of these intimate songs are so powerful that I doubt that they could be bettered.

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of quality live recordings because they bring a level of spontaneity to them that is mostly missing in the carefully crafted studio versions.

Annie and Thomas beautifully complement each other.

As Annie puts it “two dear friends playing songs together with the kind of secret understanding one can only get through endless nights in New York City.”

It is quite amazing how much emotion and drama can be conveyed with just two instruments but when you’re a master of your chosen instrument, as both Annie Clarke and Thomas Bartlett certainly are, then anything are possible.

I love the space in this album.

It’s so nice to hear these songs uncluttered by layers of instrumentation.

This album was showcased over the course of two intimate performances presented by Clarke and Bartlett, firstly at The Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles and then in London’s Cadogan Hall with the later performance moving the Q magazine reviewer to state: “(the performance was) a showcase of both straightforward songcraft and unmediated stage presence, this evening was undoubtedly a victory.”

I would have loved to be there, but as I wasn’t this album is a great substitute.

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