Just temporarily, to play a show. But she showed her hometown homies some love while she was here.

Dallas native Annie Clark, former member of the Polyphonic Spree and a 2001 Lake Highlands High School grad who now performs under the moniker St. Vincent, is a rising star — she’s appeared on Letterman, written music for the Twilight saga, been nominated for various independent music awards and received glowing reviews of her albums from the likes of SPIN (she also appeared on the cover of their style issue, in which she relays a story of a panic attack at a Rangers game) and Entertainment Weeklymagazines. Her album Actor hit number nine on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart and her new album Strange Mercy is garnering considerable good buzz.

Years ago, she recalled for the Advocatethe first time, as a teenager, that she played with Spree, the rising East Dallas-based band she auditioned for in 2005.

“My first show with them, I think there were like 30,000 people. It was great.”

Since then, Clark has toured as a guitar player in Sufjan Stevens’ band and played shows with Arcade Fire, John Vanderslice and Midlake, all big names in indie rock music.

“They all bring something to the musical spectrum and the culture that’s really vital,” Clark says. “It was really lucky for me to get to tour with them.”

She chose the name St. Vincent as a tribute to the hospital where the poet Dylan Thomas died, and to allow her the freedom to play different types of music with varying backup musicians.

“I think it’s really important to make a space for what you want to do and sort of name it in a way that gives it life and gives it space,” she told us. “I just wanted to create a house, a place where I could be a creative person that was different than the normal, boring, numbing things we have to do.”

Clark writes her songs and plays all of the instruments, with some exception such as Mike Garson, David Bowie’s long-time pianist, contributing to her first album, Marry Me. She has taught herself to play guitar, bass, piano, dulcimer, xylophone and vibes.

“I just kind of picked them up and figured how I could make sounds with them,” she says. “I like this quote by John Lennon where he kind of says, ‘I’m not the best guitar player in the world, but I’m an artist, and I can make some music from really anything.’”

St. Vincent played at Good Records on Greenville, the spot owned by her former Spree bandmates, before her show last weekend at the Kessler theater in Oak Cliff. Jason Reyna filmed and edited this video from the intimate little gig.

Clark’s family still lives in Lake Highlands.


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