Drag City

Scout Niblett - The Calcination Of Scout Niblett

Welcome to my self-made sweat box. This is where I take it all off. I've got to sweat it out, I'll cook those monsters out -- I'm not coming out of here until my soul appears” is a line that appears in the title track of The Calcination of Scoutt Niblett, and if there is a theme for this album, this is it. The word “calcination” refers to burning metals into calx -- the ashy substance that remains. It’s appropriate here. Since 2001, Niblett has used minimal trappings to get her songs across, usually just a guitar and some well-placed drums. She concentrates on rock essences that transfer emotion without contrivance or sonic affectation -- there is no excess here, nothing extra at all. Produced (again) by Steve Albini, Niblett has stripped everything to the barest: a distorted electric guitar underscores nakedly searing lyrics that sometimes get accented by primitive drums -- or not. Accompanied only by her guitar in “Bargin“ (sic), she allows her contralto to move up half an octave and sings as if she’s look the all-encompassing, murderous rage that follows deep romantic betrayal, and the lyrics feel unedited to chilling effect. On "My Man," the sound of heartbreak is reflected as pure vulnerability, Niblett's voice moans and expresses desolation while asking questions that she knows are both irrelevant and obsessive. "Woman and Man" is a skittering, martial, angular blues done Niblett style. It asks about the moment the genders come together emotionally, sexually, spiritually. Its drums and guitars bludgeon, then all but collapse in the certain knowledge that the question is existential. "All Night Long," with its guitar acting as a second voice to embolden the protagonist's, has Niblett wailing in a desperate prayer to transcend her situation one way or another. On the set closer "What Can I Do?" there's a light on the distant horizon, past bitterness, anger, wrenching disappointment, and loneliness. The singer croons soulfully about the wish to experience it. She knows healing is possible, and is williand musically, making it an abundantly successful endeavor.