The anger that burns at the core of "Gun," the striking song that kicks off Scout Niblett's seventh album, is not the chaotic wail of a jilted lover, but the calm plotting of one intent on revenge.
"I think I'm gonna buy me a gun, a nice little silver one / And in a crowd someday, you won't see it coming anyway," sings Niblett, the venomous intent in the lyrics matched by her icy tone and the burst of raw anger pushing its way through a guitar amp.
As an entry point to It's Up to Emma, "Gun" works with the type of cinematic precision employed in flash-forwards like those on Breaking Bad. That a situation has so clearly pushed itself into dark territory is a shock, but from there, "Gun," like those memorable scenes, promises to unravel the causes and misturns that led the way.
The lyrics of "Second Chance Dreams" play on the positivity of those words — chance and dream — to tell of a manipulative partner who dangles temptation in front of an addicted partner.
The record is an intense listen, darkly confessional songs of intimate and intensely rendered pain, played in stripped down arrangements that wind electrified folk into a raging storm. That she can present TLC's "No Scrubs" in the same style simply underscores the album's power.
It's Up to Emma is about a relationship not just ended, but gone rancid, and its darkly cathartic path of turmoil speaks more of self-reliance than a hundred girl-power anthems.