Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stacy Clark

[Photo Credit: Douglas Sonders]

There's nothing better than seeing a local OC musician hitting it big. A frequenter of the Gypsy Lounge and all of the other great little venues Orange County has to offer, I am the biggest sideline cheerleader of local musicians around. (Well maybe besides Ashley Eliot- but really how can you compete with that one woman local band-promoting machine?) There are so many fabulous musicians in this great county of ours just waiting to be discovered. One local musician starting up that stairway to music biz heaven is Stacy Clark.

Let me preface this blog with this: I have a strong aversion for female rock singers. Be it pop rock, indie rock, good ole fashioned rock n' roll or whatever - I find female singers' voices are usually whiney, squeeky or forced; their lyrics are either too syrupy sweet and cheesy or trying too hard to be edgy; and overall I feel they are usually just lacking in that overall true grit that I love about good rock n' roll. There are of course exceptions to my "No Girls Allowed" rule. Rachel Yamagata, Rilo Kiley, Paramore, Regina Spektor, The Duke Spirit, The Sounds, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and local OC songbird Stacy Clark.

[Photo Credit: Douglas Sonders]

What makes Stacy's sound is it's use of sweet and sour. (This is probably due to her ecclectic music influences that range from Rage Against the Machine to David Bowie to Sarah McLachlin.) Her sweet, angelic, almost juvenile voice is perfectly balanced by the brutally honest lyrics of a world-wise woman. When I say I like a female singer with true rock n' roll grit, that doesn't mean she has to have an amazingly gravelly, B.A. voice like Brody Dalle of The Distillers or Janis Joplin. I recently interviewed Merle Haggard and he said that Johnny Cash taught him that the thing that makes music great is honesty. Listeners can tell when they're being sold a package. We can in fact tell the difference between the real deals (the Johnny Cashes and the Kurt Cobains) and the fakers, posers and wannabes (I'm lookin' at you Nickelback.) Well that being said, Stacy Clark is the real, honest deal. One listen to her new album Connect The Dots and you'll find a vulnerable, yet spirited young woman who can be brutal one minute, warning, "I will only break your heart... if you only knew what was good for you, you'd stay away from me," in her song "All Time Low" to completely open and vulnerable the next as she softly sings, "the trouble that life brings, don't you fall for it," in "Misery" and "I feel so alone and everyone's around," in one of my favorites "Hide." And isn't that life? A rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, good and bad? You will find the full spectrum of emotions on Connect The Dots. "There is nothing more satisfying that writing a song and having someone listen and feel like they can relate," says Stacy. "My songs will outlive me and I hope they can make a difference in someone's life in the same way music has done for me."

Helping Stacy on Connect The Dots was producer Matt Appleton (Panic! At The Disco and The Veronicas) who also offered his musical talents on accordian, trumpet, ukelele, and mandolin and his composing skills for background string arrangements. Using such a varied spectrum of musical instruments really gives the album what Stacy calls "the sparkly bits." The result is a magical mixture of strings, horns and vocals over a bouncing Regina Spektor-esque piano.

[Stacy Clark's latest release Connect The Dots.]

Stacy Clark has been a regular on the OC music scene since she moved here from Buffalo, NY, and to much local acclaim. She won Best Female Performer at the 2006 Southern California Music Awards, Best Female Performer at the OC Music Awards in 2007 and Best Pop Artist this year. It's been a long journey for Stacy, but all of her hard work - booking her own shows and tours and funding her own albums - has finally paid off. Not only does she have a plethora of life experience and lessons to share with the world, but she also has a freshly signed record deal with independent label Vanguard Records (home to Greg Laswell, Joan Baez, The Watson Twins and more) to make sure her voice and stories will be heard. She's ready to spread her songbird wings, fly away from her OC nest, and venture out into the great blue yonder. Catch her at one of her upcoming local shows in August to wish her well on her way.

August 5, 2010     2:30pm     OC Fair               Costa Mesa, Ca

August 19, 2010   8:00pm     Gypsy Lounge     Lake Forest, Ca

Find her online at her myspace or on her facebook.
Vanguard Records is also offering a free download of "Don't Take What's Mine!"

- Amy 
On my iTunes: Stacy Clark's "Touch and Go"

Check out the official music video for "Touch and Go" while you're at it.

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