Polly Scattergood - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh - 13th April 2009
The wispy, diminutive Brit School graduate may not have seemed to suit the sweaty, underground musk of Sneaky Pete's, what with her sparkling blue dress, poofed out at the bottom, and her ever so sweet, ever so timid greetings. But behind the microphone, Polly Scattergood turns into a wailing fairytale child - confident yet dreamy, passioned yet pure. Every inch the Alice in indieland.
Her self-titled debut has caught the attention of one or two across the land, as a graduate from the same school as Winehouse and Adele, and being that oft praised thing in today's music – a talented British female singer. She differs from her ex-classmates though, taking the grimy side-streets and country lanes to credibility rather than the highway to fame and destruction. More akin to Laura Marling, yet with the technology of La Roux, she offers sweet sentiment, yet ultimately delivers bitter accusations, leading with piano but backed by electronic elements when it all just gets too much.
This dual character is all part of the live Scattergood experience too, beginning her set as the sole body on stage, delivering a stripped arrangement of very raw experience. She's not Tori Amos though, and her youth shows its frailties. The folly of someone so young singing something so mature is exposed. Should we believe these words of heartache? As yet, no.
The band come soon thoug and her comfort zone is found. Her inexperience becomes her advantage as electro-pop is delivered with the voice of a more comprehensible Bjork, with 'Other Too Endless' and 'I Hate the Way' particularly racing examples of feist and attitude mixed with angelic whimsy, as her movement becomes fluid, near pagan. Kate Bush and Britt Ekland in The Wickerman are further influences it seems.
She's an individual though, don't worry. It all combines with a talent bursting to come out, and a voice that's not easy to forget. Eventually she'll make her mark, as confidence and audiences grow. And when you can already end a set with a song as powered and emphatic as 'Nitrogen Pink', there's always a future.