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Scout Niblett - It's Up to Emma (Drag City)

12 July 2013

If you’re Scout Niblett, and you get your heart broke, you do what you do best: you turn to your muse. In the case of It’s Up to Emma, it’s one hell of a visit. The opening song “Gun” pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the record; you know that a record’s going to be a rough go when the opening line is “I think I’m gonna buy me a gun, a nice little silver one.” Don’t feel too bad, though; this particular individual, in hindsight, is worth being ditched. In spite of the personal trauma that obviously went into the writing of the songs, It’s Up To Emma is an amazing and amazingly personal record, full of the darkest depths of the human psyche. She’s in fine voice, too, and her creative forces take her from stripped-down blues (“Woman and Man”) to grunge-rock (“Could This Possibly Be?”), and even a trip into soft, sensual ambient pop (“Can’t Fool Me Now”). The turning of rap-pop hit “No Scrubs” into a dark country-rock barroom duet is the sweet icing on an arsenic-laced cake. It’s Up to Emma is one of this year’s darkest listens, as well as a mature release from a talented artist.