Emma Louise “Scout” Niblett is an indie-folk singer/songwriter. Obviously, her nickname comes from the protagonist and narrator “Scout” in To Kill a Mockingbird. She’s originally from Staffordshire, England, but has been living in Portland, Oregon for a while. She’s released six records since 2001. If I’m honest, until this week, the only one of her records that I had was her stunning 2001 debut Sweet Heart Fever. I love that record, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she’s still active. In fact, her new record, which I only bought this morning, is pretty amazing. Whereas her first couple of records were bare-bones, and awesome in a different way, this one is much more fleshy. She’s always been compared to Cat Power, and if Sweet Heart Fever is her What Would the Community Think, I’d say that It’s Up To Emma is her You Are Free. As a tangential point of reference, You Are Free is my favorite Cat Power record. And it’s not even close. Back to the point of Scout Niblett’s new album: Bigger. Broader. With 77% more “awesome”. She played guitar and did a little bit of drumming on the first couple of records. That was pretty much it. She got a little bit of outside help from other musicians, but she was doing all of the heavy lifting by herself. These days, she has a full band. At least she does on the new album, her sixth.
It’s not my preference to post videos, but it’s also not my preference to potentially infringe upon copyrights by posting my own mp3s. That said, I have to post today’s song in the form of this charming and fun video of her running around a Portland carnival in a Snow White costume.
Just get past the first 23 seconds with the music box playing. That’s not part of the song on the album, and I really wish it wasn’t in the video. After that, it’s amazing.
My favorite bit of the video is the part where she’s playing the inflatable guitar. Brilliant.
It’s a marvelous, raw, edgy song. While she’s still essentially a folk singer, she really demonstrates the fact that one of her biggest musical inspirations was Kurt Cobain. Her guitar playing in this song is a perfect example of his influence on her. In the video, starting at the 2:57 mark, that’s when that really shows. Incidentally, that’s also when we see her with the awesome inflatable guitar for the first time.
Today will be the first of many times that I’ll write about bands who will be playing at the upcoming 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival this September in Raleigh. This is the fourth year of the festival, which boasts a lineup of 175 bands playing over three nights at 15 venues in downtown Raleigh. This will be my second consecutive year attending the entire festival, after going to “main event” shows in years one and two. This year, the headlining bands will be rapper Big Boi on Friday, and spacerockers Spiritualized and indie rock icons The Breeders on Saturday. A few of the other “large print” performers will be John Cale, Low, and Kurt Vile.
The lineup was announced in April, and the full schedule in mid-June. There will be changes to the lineup, even up until the week of the festival.
Scout Niblett wasn’t listed in the originally announced lineup, and in fact, she’s still not listed in the lineup. They very quietly added her to the mix. If you click on the schedule for Saturday night, you’ll see that she’s playing at 10:00 at the Kennedy Theater. Saturday is going to be the best and most difficult night to manage, but I’ll make sure that I’m there for her set.
You can still buy single-day, three-day, and VIP three-day passes to the Hopscotch Music Festival. Check here for full details. I’ll hope to see some of you in Raleigh. Over the next eight weeks, I’ll be doing a lot of features about bands who are on my long list of bands to see at the festival. Some of them are new to me, while some are old favorites. Something like 30% of the roster is made up of “local” bands.
You can buy It’s Up To Emma in physical or digital format from the Drag City web store here, or from your favorite legal downloading place.