Rock & Roll Alchemy
The first time I heard The Calcination of Scout Niblett I had the almost irresistable urge to visit Scout’s Last.fm page and just leave a “Scoooooouuuuuut!” post – my version of a greeting as well as nod of approval for the album. Seemed a bit silly, so I had to ask myself where that urge came from. The answer, I believe, is familiarity.
Listening to Calcination… is like listening to a friend sing rock and roll campfire tales, which is where the warm, inviting familiarity comes from. The songs are stripped bare in typical Scout style, which most commonly means just a guitar, drums and her unmistakable voice, making it an intimate album in terms of instrumentation and subject matter – both of which fluctuate effortlessly between mellow tales to tracks with out-and-out rock/punk attitude, quite often within the same song. If it were to garner any comparison I would say it has most in common with 2005’s Kidnapped By Neptune (which happens to be a particular personal favourite – perhaps not for long because this album is just that good).
The album keeps pace very well, and the final four tracks are absolutely stellar – Ripe With Life and Meet and Greet being notable highlights. The latter (which is the final track), is a very welcome bluesy number which could almost double as the torch song right before the final battle in an old western.
I’m going to divert for a bit now and talk about the album’s title. Admittedly, I had to look up just exactly what calcination meant. (I’m glad I did because I was a little off-base in my initial understanding). Calcination refers to a process of heating materials, either in order to effect phase transformations or to remove volatile elements, as well as occurring naturally beneath layers of hot volcanic ash. With all this in mind the album’s title is rather apt.
So, then, what does The Calcination of Scout Niblett produce? Utterly heartwarming and charming rock and roll , which is both stark and beautiful – that kind of alchemy is quite rare indeed.
Visit betterPropaganda to get a free MP3 of the title track.