Scout Niblett

I Am (Secretly Canadian)

SXSW Records

Scout Niblett

I Am (Secretly Canadian) If nothing else, she's got the cutest name going for her. Thankfully, Nottingham, England's Emma Louise Niblett (the "Scout" is from, yes, To Kill a Mockingbird) has much more than that, as these 13 achingly beautiful songs of loss, love, and not a little bit of anger handily confirm. Compared too often to that other female singer-songwriter with the cool name (Chan Marshall, we're talking to you), Niblett is quicker to inform her songs with sudden surges of cacophony that erupt from behind her plaintive vocals like a pissed-off boot-boy lunging from the darkened alley of an ex's battered heart, knife in one hand, roses in the other. The schizophrenic "Drummer Boy" ricochets from softish lament to punch-in-the gut howlings, while the brief "Texas" catalogs the Lone Scar State's major attributes in a fashion any current or former resident can readily empathize with: "Texas is hot. Even when driving at night. And Texas is alright." It says plenty that Niblett's final "thank you" goes to no less than Steve Albini ("for being the best") since much of I Am feels as though it might have benefited from Albini's psychotic visions and even Big Black's own version of "Texas." Ultimately, however, this is the sound of an angry, explosive anti-waif with a back catalogue full of the wonder of heartache and the magic of loss. That and a heck of a chip on her guitar. (Friday, March 19, 9pm @ Buffalo Billiards)

****

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