Scout Niblett UK tour 2010
Who is this woman? And why haven’t I heard more about her?
She’s the Staffordshire-born chanteuse responsible for some sparse but beautiful singer-songwriting on six fantastic albums. Despite frequent comparisons to Cat Power and PJ Harvey she has a relatively low-level, cult profile – disappointing considering the brilliance of her latest LP, The Calcination of Scout Niblett, released in February this year.
Technically the heating of metal without fusion. In the metaphorical world of the soul’s deepest hopes and pain (much more Niblett’s scene) it refers to the first stage of alchemy – the breakdown of elements to their barest forms – comparable to the near absolute distillation of songwriting essence that Niblett achieves on The Calcination …. The album is a very concise encyclopaedia of emotional turmoil, pure in its simple use of guitar, drums and voice, and hard-going, though ultimately rewarding, in its honesty.
Scout Niblett – that can’t be her real name?
It’s a reference to the character Scout in Harper Lee’s novel of civil unrest in small town America, To Kill a Mockingbird. Her real name is Emma Louise Niblett.
A Yankophile then?
More than that, she lives full-time in Portland, Oregon, having quit sunny California because it was ‘too expensive’. As with last issue’s Profile subject, Nina Nastasia, she records with legendary punk and grunge producer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey) at his Chicago studio. Rumour has it that, as a keen astrologist, she only records at certain times, when the planets are at their most sonorous.
Eccentric much? Why spend an evening in her company?
The reasons are many. Lets start with the refreshing straightforwardness of her stage show. She sometimes backs her quavering, but heartfelt, singing with fumbling guitars; other times she prefers to rock out with some buzzing three-chord punk progressions. Either way it’s going to being raw.
Does she do anything in the vein of chart-topping 70s reggae?
Glad you asked. Her cover version of Althea and Donna’s ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ (stripped back to near-nothing of course) is a crowd favourite.
Stereo, Glasgow, Tue 1 Jun.