Friday, October 26, 2007

Scout Niblett - This Fool Can Die Now

Download: Scout Niblett - "Kiss"
Download: Scout Niblett - "Let Thine Heart Be Warmed"
Download: Scout Niblett - "Dinosaur Egg"

Scout Niblett
This Fool Can Die Now (Beggars/Too Pure, 2007)
Grade: B+

Scout Niblett is a hobo.

I'm sure of it. I'd be sure of it even if I didn't see her open for St. Vincent wearing a straight-jacket like most people wear hoodies. Now, I've only recently become schooled in the ways of the hobo, due to my exhaustive reading of John Hodgeman's The Areas Of My Expertise. But I think I that, in listening to Scout Niblett's fourth album, I've determined that the only way for Niblett to capture the kind of slow-burn wanderlust and aching solitude (moods which permeate Fool to a great degree) seemingly inherent in the hobo lifestyle would be if you actually spent your time riding in the back of locomotive trains with no one to talk to but a can of beans.

If you don't believe me, then listen to the weariness in Niblett's voice as she delivers the line "And how the hell did I live so long/without you by my side?" in album opener "Do You Want To Be Buried With My People?", her duet with collaborator Bonnie "Prince" Billy. The only way you can feel that desperation is if you're colloquially known as "Stewbulder Dennis."

Another reason why I believe Scout Niblett is a hobo is because in This Fool Can Die Now's quieter moments--moments where the music is disarmingly quiet, as if Kurt Cobain reinvented himself after hearing What Would The Community Think?--you feel as if she is singing right beside you. The timbre of Niblett's voice simply sends shivers down the spine, and she puts that unique talent to great use on songs such as "Kiss", "Elizabeth (Black Hearted Queen)" and "Dinosaur Egg". That last song in particular is an album highlight because of how it is humorous--the absurd image of a dinosaur serving drinks on a Friday night is worth the lyrical price of admission alone.

If there's anything to complain about This Fool Can Die Now, it's that there aren't many moments of levity like that. The album becomes a bit monotonous, though still engaging, around the middle, where a series of more introspective songs dominate the section. However, tracks like "Let Thine Heart Be Warned" make sure that the guitars are plenty heavy.

One doesn't have to carve their own currency into already-existing currency to know that Scout Niblett has a value all her own, and she lets it show on this praiseworthy album.

One last hobo reference:
Marge: Oh, Homer you're not going as a hobo again?
Homer: Going where?

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(Jonathan Graef)

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Blogger bingsy said...

I wrote this in my livejournal the night after watching her perform an instore performance at SXSW 2006:

trend of the day: Scout Niblett had this weird raincoat thingy that kind of made her look a wee bit like a homeless street kid.

2:11 PM  
Blogger e said...

She's so good live, I kind of regret being too lazy and tired on a weeknight to get out and see her.

10:19 PM  

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