Artist: Scout Niblett
Title: It’s Up To Emma
Label: Drag City
Singer songwriter Emma Louise Niblett, also known as Scout Niblett is to release her sixth album, and second LP release with the Chicago based label Drag City this week. Niblett apparently chose her stage name after the lead character in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Her indie genre is punctuated by a minimal style using a low-key combination of guitar or piano and vocals. She cites her main influences as grunge bands Sonic Youth and Nirvana, and the use of guitar and drums in this album reflects these inspirations well.
First track on It’s Up To Emma, “Gun” is both delicate and aggressive at the same time, the guitar and sudden surges of energy in the track contrast with the sweeter moments in Niblett’s vocals; “I think I’m gonna buy a gun, a nice little silver one”. “Can’t Fool Me Now” uses a lovely twangy guitar melody to accompany the lyrics that move slowly along a narrative that picks up into a swirl of emotion and string sounds.
“My Man” has a long instrumental introduction, before Niblett lets out passionate, slow paced vocals and asks “Could we have made it somehow?”. It’s a lovely down tempo track that still shines with emotion. “Second Chance Dreams” is in a similar vein, starting with a stripped back vibe with Niblett’s strong vocals similar to that of Nina Nastasia or Julie Doiron.
“No Scrubs” is in fact a cover of the TLC classic from 1999, done with male vocals to accompany it couldn’t be much farther from the original. It’s original R&B vibes and lyrics have been given a grunge-over. “Could This Possibly Be?” has a pondering, quiet introduction before Niblett yelps over strong drum beats and guitar riffs bring a great energy. It goes back to the quiet, shuffling instrumental as a contrast, back and forth, she asks tentatively; “Could this possibly be?” before going on to scream “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”
Closing track “What Can I Do?” finishes It’s Up To Emma with more questions; “Baby, what can I do to make it right for you?”, twangy guitar, minimal instrument use and a focus on Niblett’s emotions, raw and sweeping and is all in all, very effective.
It’s Up To Emma by Scout Niblett is out May 21st On Drag City.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.