“Niblett takes the old quiet-loud dynamic and stretches it to unexpected lengths.” – The Wire
“If you’re looking for dusty, cavernous melancholia entwined with hard rockin’ and speckled with magic, then consider it found.” – Drowned in Sound
“Steve Albini is admirably restrained here, preserving the raw power of Niblett’s guitar, allowing it to throb and hum beneath–and sometimes above–her bell-like voice.” UNCUT
Drag City rolls up on the Scout Niblett scene just in time for the grand calcination. What luck, to arrive in time for such good timing! Her new record is her most tightly coiled long-player yet, a heavy handful of songs that are reaching for the ripe and the light. People come to Emma Louise “Scout” Niblett for the joy of a scalding hot bath of sound amidst stark, bluesy emoting —and she won’t let ’em down this time. But something has shifted. Having made herself a record or two’s worth of celebration ballads and moody freakouts, she seems to be hearing that call from within to feel for other things. Yelling at the kids around the way only ever gets you so far. And so, it’s time to holler inward. The Calcination of Scout Niblett finds our girl in phase transition,
exchanging elements for the betterment of her organism. Stripping down. Surrendering. Taking the bull by the wheel and driving to another place.
Take the picture on the cover. It’s the first album photo where Scout’s acknowledging the camera, a new relationship giving sign of a greater awareness of herself and a desire to confront — a new confrontation, a more sober
and realistic conversation. Throughout The Calcination of Scout Niblett we see Scout in deep focus. The lens has dollied in and stuck there. The sweat conjured in performance permeates the screen; darkness is all around her, whelming the picture. She’s in an empty space and her voice snaps against the walls, behind weird shadows we can’t make
out. And cutting through, we might believe that we’re hearing an inner monologue or two. The songs string together, almost as one, her guitar growls and bites, and the black velvet of space hovers. Just when the tension in the room and the filament of guitar can’t glow any brighter, suddenly a band erupts, accompaniment to her vision — and then back down to Scout and guitar. All the better for the boys to not get too burned. Well, burned just enough. Well-done, even!
The Calcination of Scout Niblett is an intense devotional, a determined spirit journey and a collection of great slow-dance songs.
Points of Interest:
· The Calcination of Scout Niblett is the fifth soul-searing record from the musical entity known as Scout Niblett.
· Scout Niblett continues her fruitful studio relationship with Steve Albini on The Calcination of Scout Niblett. Even the silence sounds devastating!
· Whether performing her original songs or covers like Swearing at Motorists’ “Duke of Anxiety,” Scout’s vocal presence is something entirely her own.