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Album Review
Stacy Clark - Connect the Dots Album Cover

Stacy Clark - Connect the Dots

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7.2
Stacy Clark - Connect the Dots
Record Label: Vanguard
Release Date: Aug. 10, 2010
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Why must you do this to us? Why must the moments of sheer beauty be so far and fleeting? Connect the Dots, Stacy Clark's follow-up to the widely praised Apples and Oranges, is a hypnotic, piano-laden affair that's mildly enthralling, but more often than not, way too disappointing. And yet despite all of its stumbles, there still may be enough substance to turn some heads.

Album opener "Not Enough,' shimmers with a crashing piano and electronic flourishes that seems to pick up exactly where Apples and Oranges left off. The pronounced piano and heavy dose of electronic bleeps and blips are certainly engaging, but one can't help but feel frustrated by this tactical decision. Sure, it's a fine sample of the modern pop landscape but it isn't exactly unique or distinct. And yet despite these tepid feelings, the track still manages to shimmer and shake with a vocal precision that's far too hard to imitate.

Lead single "Touch and Go," and should-be single "White Lies," are perfect examples of the dichotomy on the record. There's the playful, breezy construction, a la the chorus and the lyrics, and then there's the tightly-packed layers of pianos and guitars, painting an all-consuming landscape of sensual sophistication and crisp maturity. Second cut "All Time Low," is proof of this. Bolstered by an autumnal accordion, the song pairs caustic verses with Clark's vocal kinesis. Whether its the guttural pull of her intonations or the pleading breathiness of her inflections, she's capable of making music that's invigorating, vibrant and downright intoxicating. Unfortunately, Connect the Dots never fully shows that.

Despite its upbeat moments, the disc is at its best when Clark is introspective and brooding. Take for example, the strings-laden ballad "Hold On." which finds a protagonist relying on inner faith and determination to make it through a shadowy period. There's something about her being guttural and vulnerable that makes her music that much more palpable. That simple fact is why the disc is so downright upsetting. For all its winning moments, there's still something missing.

While the album is an engaging aural treat, the SoCal chanteuse still needs work, most notably on her lyrics. Verses such as "There's not enough electricity to make it work," and "I can't stop thinking about the way you look at me," aren't going to pass the buck for a singer-songwriter that's nearing her thirties. Considering her medical history and her well-traveled career path, one has to think she has more up her sleeve than just heartbroken pining. Those that aren't lyrically attuned, can make the argument that Clark is trying her best to write radio-friendly pop anthems and applying the less is more card, but do we really need less is more from from someone that gave us such winning compositions as "Peppermint Patties, " and "Empty Bottles?"

Then there's the aural landscape. Bubbly cuts like "Air Force," and "Fireworks," don't really offer much in the way of Clark cementing herself as being the nation's next Regina Spektor. The mid-tempo piano cut "Anywhere," goes absolutely nowhere, while "Misery," tries to be ruminative and probing but comes across as far too pedestrian. Upbeat cut "Don't Take What's Mine," adds horns and has a Lily Allen-sunniness that Clark wears well, but should we have waited through two throwaways for a composition like this? Penultimate cut "Hide," is a heart-on-the-sleeve confession that is arguably the disc's best offering, while closer "I Do," is sensual, tender and deeply affecting.

But that they rest at the end of the album is exactly the problem. Why did Connect the Dots have to be stuffed with so much filler? Producer Matt Appleton, whose worked with Panic At the Disco, The Veronicas and Foxy Shazam, to name a few, has stepped out of his comfort zone and guided Clark in a direction that's not exactly suited for her. For much of the disc, she feels overmatched, suffocated and weighed down. Connect the Dots was supposed to be Clark's step forward and instead, it finds her back at the beginning. If disc three doesn't reinvent her, then Lord knows what will?

Track Listing 1. Not Enough
2. All Time Low
3. White Lies
4. Air Force
5. Fireworks
6. Touch and Go
7. Hold On
8. Anywhere
9. Misery
10. Don't Take What's Mine
11. Hide
12. I Do


Recommended If You Like A Fine Frenzy, Rosi Golan, Bess Rogers


Find Her Here Website/Myspace
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
07:44 AM on 08/09/10
#2
cwhit412
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Damn. a 2.75 for lyrics?
08:07 AM on 08/09/10
#3
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Damn. a 2.75 for lyrics?
They aren't THAT bad. They're probably about a 5. But I am trying to make a point. She's had an arduous life and has really stared adversity in the face. This can't be the best she has to offer.
08:10 AM on 08/09/10
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cwhit412
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They aren't THAT bad. They're probably about a 5. But I am trying to make a point. She's had an arduous life and has really stared adversity in the face. This can't be the best she has to offer.
Gotcha.
10:21 AM on 08/09/10
#5
hip323480
Going Back to the Future
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I absolutely love this album. I went into the album realizing the lyrics we not going to be the deepest ever. They play fun pop music with great hooks.
11:13 AM on 08/09/10
#6
asher_roslynn
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For the most part I totally agree...the production is super crisp and I love the piano tones from what I've heard so far, but as a progressive step into album no. 2, it's definitely meh. Wasn't it three years or so between albums, and this is it? Apples and Oranges all the way for me. And I hate to be a nit picker, but the autotune...

Though on the other side, it's still insanely catchy and fun pop. and I do love that "there are no fireworks, no electricity to make it work" line ha.
11:17 AM on 08/09/10
#7
Steve Henderson
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I like Stacy a lot, but I didn't care for this as much as A&O. I think she needs to stop trying so hard to make a crossover pop hit. Her best songs are the ones where she sounds wounded, vulnerable, and mysterious.

Greg - I think your score is a bit too positive given your true thoughts.
11:24 AM on 08/09/10
#8
Gregory Robson
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I like Stacy a lot, but I didn't care for this as much as A&O. I think she needs to stop trying so hard to make a crossover pop hit. Her best songs are the ones where she sounds wounded, vulnerable, and mysterious.

Greg - I think your score is a bit too positive given your true thoughts.
You are spot on there, but I don't have it in me to give her something in the 60s. I just don't.
11:25 AM on 08/09/10
#9
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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For the most part I totally agree...the production is super crisp and I love the piano tones from what I've heard so far, but as a progressive step into album no. 2, it's definitely meh. Wasn't it three years or so between albums, and this is it? Apples and Oranges all the way for me. And I hate to be a nit picker, but the autotune...

Though on the other side, it's still insanely catchy and fun pop. and I do love that "there are no fireworks, no electricity to make it work" line ha.
I hate them, not because they are horribly unoriginal, but because they get lodged in the recesses of my brain for days. Grrrrrrr.
12:23 PM on 08/09/10
Stacy Clark
Stacy Clark
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hiedy ho mo fos. it does differ from apples & oranges, but it will hopefully grow on you. i understand not everyone will get it and thats ok. sorry that all my suffering and life experiences haven't made something more enjoyable for you to listen to. i know you said "hold on" and "hide" are you favs and i love them to. truth is i dont want to write all sad songs, like you said I've been through some stuff and want to be happy. singing songs that are that intense and dark every night can make you sad rethinking and reliving each emotion. hence my happy songs.

for the record i am not trying to be anyone or anything but myself. i am just trying to make an honest living doing what i love. it was more something for me to create and if you liked it great! i really enjoyed making this album and think of it as a yearbook that captures the feelings i went through the past few years. they weren't as "sunshiney" as when i first moved to california so i didn't want that happy electro production. i felt like i lost a piece of myself and wanted it back. thus going the organic route with production. i think matt did a fantastic job and i really like the albums simplicity. its the simple things in life that are the best. last time i checked its a good thing for lyrics to get stuck in your head for days. I'm not looking for a reinvention, just love creating. one word of advice - don't set yourself up with expectations because all you will get are disappointments. thanks for the honest review. ps greg, its possible your home will get toliet papered.... mwwwwuahhhhhhh
02:32 PM on 08/09/10
InBetweenAisles
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I enjoyed the album, but I would have to agree with this review. I was a huge fan of Apples & Oranges and this wasn't as good.
07:31 PM on 08/09/10
emosideproject
June leaves too soon.
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I agree mostly with the review. Music is pretty flawless but something about it made it fall a bit flat. Also would have loved to have more of an electropop feel as too as with A&O. I think it's still one of the better releases so far though, so I wouldn't get too down on it, Stacy. It's cool that you're a firm believer in doing what you love and what you want to do.
05:22 AM on 08/10/10
aealeman
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I find it kind of immature that the artist feels compelled to come on here and comment on the review.

That being said, "empty bottles" is still a fabulous song.
09:10 AM on 08/10/10
theskycouldfly
Bluth Family
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hiedy ho mo fos. it does differ from apples & oranges, but it will hopefully grow on you. i understand not everyone will get it and thats ok. sorry that all my suffering and life experiences haven't made something more enjoyable for you to listen to. i know you said "hold on" and "hide" are you favs and i love them to. truth is i dont want to write all sad songs, like you said I've been through some stuff and want to be happy. singing songs that are that intense and dark every night can make you sad rethinking and reliving each emotion. hence my happy songs.

for the record i am not trying to be anyone or anything but myself. i am just trying to make an honest living doing what i love. it was more something for me to create and if you liked it great! i really enjoyed making this album and think of it as a yearbook that captures the feelings i went through the past few years. they weren't as "sunshiney" as when i first moved to california so i didn't want that happy electro production. i felt like i lost a piece of myself and wanted it back. thus going the organic route with production. i think matt did a fantastic job and i really like the albums simplicity. its the simple things in life that are the best. last time i checked its a good thing for lyrics to get stuck in your head for days. I'm not looking for a reinvention, just love creating. one word of advice - don't set yourself up with expectations because all you will get are disappointments. thanks for the honest review. ps greg, its possible your home will get toliet papered.... mwwwwuahhhhhhh
you rock stacy! i f*ing love the new record. cant stop listening to it! keep writing music and i will always buy it and support you.
07:37 PM on 08/13/10
J.R. LeMar
African-American Idol
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I find it kind of immature that the artist feels compelled to come on here and comment on the review.

That statement makes no sense to me. Why wouldn't an artist want to read and comment on a review of their music? It's not like she came here and started arguing with the reviewer.

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