"The Smallest Acts of Kindness" (Album, 2008)
Anne Clark is one of those names that has been on the periphery of my awareness for the best part of 25 years. Part musician, part poet, Clark was closely involved in the UK nascent punk/new wave music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s most directly through her links to the Warehouse Theatre - a centre that saw early performances from the likes of Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Durutti Column, The Damned and Generation X. Clark's first public appearance on stage was with Depeche Mode. So it's rather surprising that it has taken me until now to actually sit down and listen to her work.
The Smallest Acts of Kindness is Clark's first new material in over a decade and seemingly broadly representative of her favourite themes (intellectual exploration of the faults and delights of mankind and society) and a disarmingly eclectic style ranging from spoken word to pure electro. The subject matter is clearly the focus for Clark as she combines her thoughtful texts with a variety of musical backing - apparently choosing whichever style she feels most appropriate to the topic explored. At its best, the results are unpredictable and exciting, but the willingness to experiment, though admirable, is unsatisfying to these ears at least. I fully expected to enjoy my first sampling of Anne Clark. Instead I feel mainly deflated. However, her diverse approach almost certainly means that it would be foolhardy to write off an artist of Clark's standing on the strength of one album alone. There are more than ten others in the back catalogue, so I remain open to persuasion. 6/10
Rob Dyer (January, 2009)