There are certain albums whose content and ambience can be almost too palpable. Neil Young's Tonight's the Night is one. Scout Niblett's latest It's Up to Emma is another. Like Young's, it has a flinty quality of cathartic desolation that, no matter when you listen, feels like a sleepless 4 a.m. Skeletal guitars and ominous drums shore up Niblett's smoky croon — think Patti Smith or P.J. Harvey in their more subdued moments. Like Will Oldham (who sang on her 2007 disc This Fool Can Die Now), Niblett is unafraid to lay her emotions bare for all to hear. Like Smith and Harvey, hers is unpolished (but not sloppy) music, aimed at the dark parts of the heart and nervous system.
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