Scout Niblett I Am

On her early recordings, Scout Niblett channelled bayou blues from her home in Nottingham, UK — soulfully enough that Songs: Ohia’s Jason Molina passed her demo on to his record label. And while her debut was compared favourably to the likes of Cat Power (with whom she toured), it didn’t begin to reflect the gloriously unhinged live presence of Ms. Niblett as a one-gal Sonic Youth. I Am sets the record straight, fulfilling potential only hinted at on her recent drums-and-caterwaul I Conjure series EP. Here she fully develops the spare sound she’s been experimenting with since she took up playing drums two years ago. "Silence allows so much more freedom in expression,” she says. And certainly there is also a healthy amount of screaming on this record, a glorious release that is used well. Some of this she attributes to her schooling at a multidisciplinary arts college. "If it sounded like a song it was frowned upon. They wanted avant garde … noise. John Cage was the big influence. I learned a great deal, and was very inspired. But I also knew I loved songwriting as an art form in itself.” If Niblett’s obsession with America on her first record was primarily musical, on this one it is lyrical. One characteristically brief song observes only that "Texas is hot. Even when driving at night,” while another suggests a physical union with the country itself. "I have had a love affair with America since I was a kid. People have more self-belief than I’m used to being surrounded by in England. People taking initiative with their own lives. People doing things because they can.” Her recent appearance on Songs: Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Company grew out of the summer she spent in Bloomington, Indiana. "I do fall in love with places, countries, cities in general,” she admits. "I even get turned on studying maps.” (Secretly Canadian)