Stacy Clark – Apples and Oranges
Release Date: November 20, 2007
Record Label: Unsigned
As active music-seeking fans, there is no debating that as we are always looking to find new artists, there are few better feelings than getting in on the ground floor of something truly special. While I like to consider myself pretty “with it” when it comes to new and emerging music, I still have the tendency to be ever-so-slightly behind the curve when compared with the internet-adept youth of today, and I guess that’s okay – but it is still a little frustrating. So when I was introduced to Stacy Clark just about a year ago, I felt extremely privileged to be one of her apparent “early adopters” as her appeal seemed limited more by exposure rather than talent.
Fast forward to the present, and as the process of creating her debut LP, Apples and Oranges, has pushed forward, it is plain to see Clark gaining momentum, both within the confines of this site and beyond. So now, what we are left with is a situation where the album is no longer set up to be a complete ambush on our tastes, but rather one where many are anticipating the release of Stacy’s full length offering. So, does the chanteuse make good on the promise of potential so insistently proclaimed on her Unusual EP? The answer is most certainly “yes.”
On Apples and Oranges, longtime fans will likely be disappointed to find that three of Unusual’s four tracks all reappear in essentially unchanged form, but it needs to be remembered that ascending artists need to be mindful of fans both new and old. Thus, as a refresher, the “old” songs are a cool, slick brand of darker female-fronted pop music that gloss up an underlying emotional depth that gives the tunes a great deal of dimension. More interesting, though, is to see where Stacy has gone on her new tracks, the results of which are most pleasing.
While Unusual certainly found its fair share of resonance with listeners, the release begged for more diversity than it contained, and this is a deficiency remedied handily on Apples and Oranges. On the newly-unveiled tracks here, Clark doles out a little something for everyone – the offerings are happier, sexier, and more emotive – exactly what fans could have hoped for. It doesn’t take much more than a press of the play button on this album to recognize this either, as the Frou Frou-ish shuffle of “Matter of Time” and the slinky shadowiness of “Closer” exposes a dancier side of Clark’s music that outdoes even the driving pulse of “Never” from Unusual. Similar upbeat tones reside within “Peppermint Patties”, which centers Stacy’s gorgeous vocals over a catchy little guitar riff and a persistent, bouncy beat and the swelling crescendos of “Recluse.” Despite my relative apathy towards all things Plain White T’s, the latter cut features some extremely noteworthy guest vocals from PWT's frontman Tom Higgenson. Combining perfectly with Clark’s own stunning offerings, Higgenson’s track is applied in the mix just right – ever so slightly muted beneath our headliner’s, as are the rest of the record’s collaborations.
Now, while toe-tapping is a favorite pastime of mine to be sure, there is just something about the more morose, poignant tracks on Apples and Oranges that affect on a much larger scale, a result likely to be echoed along the majority of the record’s listeners. For example, the is an undeniable emotional weight behind Clark belting out the words to “Hello Again” in her pronounced, slightly raspy drawl that showcases her range come chorus-time. These sentiments are elevated even further by the album’s outright highlights, which easily rank among the best songs of the year. A duet with the venerable Aaron Marsh, “Empty Bottles” is an emotional tour de force. Above a simple acoustic backdrop, Clark’s enviable vocal range gels downright brilliantly with Marsh’s breathy croon, which is once again applied perfectly in the mix. While Marsh could certainly overtake any track (on vocal prowess alone) if allowed, his contributions here are tastefully restrained, and preserve the focus of the track on Clark (as they should). Likewise, the disc ends on an equally high note, with the heartbreaking beauty of “Strange”, whose sullen organ-like undertones ebb and flow under pitch-perfect singing to create a tear-jerking expression of splendor that is all too rare in today’s musical landscape.
When you look at a new artist, sure – anyone can churn out an impressive four-song EP. But the real test comes thereafter when you have to prove your legitimacy on more tracks, while displaying marked improvement and progression all-the-while. On Stacy Clark’s Apples and Oranges, she displays an impressive (and improved) vocal range, diverse song construction, and an overall knack for writing the types of songs that people just want to hear. When Clark belts out, “I am waiting for my big break” on “Strange”, the idea seems almost silly. She surely won’t be waiting much longer.
I was listening to stream yesterday and I'm not the biggest fan. She's got a great voice, all the songs are solidly composed but it doesn't really feel like a cd for some reason. All the songs seem made for TVish, like they were written to be mixed into the background. Sort of like the difference between Simian Mobile Disco and most club-styled, background house/dance with her being the latter. I'm usually a fan of ambient stuff but this isn't really like that and I can't get into it. No contest though she should be signed to somewhere, has the talent to be.
i like the stream so far, im still a bigger fan of the older songs than the new ones. empty bottles is pretty sweet, and the first track is starting to overtake unusual as my favorite song of hers. i think wiwh a few more listens i'll have a better idea of how i feel about it, but as of now it's pretty solid.
all songs that i heard were amazingly good, i really enjoyed her,.. and on which song tim pangotta sings? i remember reading about 3 guest vocalists, i couldn't get the song recluse to work so i didn't hear tom's part too,.. but aaron marsh made me like her more heh :)