Yes, Emma Louise "Scout" Niblett shares a thing or two with Cat Power. She sings in a plaintive drawl, accompanied by little more than the shambolic meanderings of a hollow-bodied electric guitar (Kristian Goddard’s rudimentary drums and the silver sheen of tinkling windchimes appear occasionally). But the Nottingham twentysomething’s vocal timbre — alternately girlish and womanly, imbued with both a honey-sticky sensuality and a whispered menace — makes this spare and striking debut a work all her own.
On the disc’s cover, kohl-eyed and bewigged, Niblett’s a nymphet playing dress-up. But on "So Much Love To Do," the skeletal blues-jazz vamp that opens the CD, her warm and seductive coo is all sexpot. A different mother appears on a haunting a cappella reading of the traditional "Lula." It’s a lullaby, but Niblett’s catatonic cadences ("Lula, Lula, Lula bye-bye/Do you want the stars to play with?") evoke a singer gazing at her sleeping child with an ax in her hands. In the dolorous "Miss My Lion," each line is a keening cry that hangs for a moment, then falls softly to earth as another rises to take its place. "When we get home/It’ll be like a party," she intones languidly. "He’s learned to move/Real slowly. See how we move/Sunlit and playful. We have it all/But I miss my lion." The inscrutability is transcended by Niblett’s wounded, mesmerizing delivery. Things are more playful on "Big Bad Man," a three-chorder that chugs along to a primal beat. But even this mischievous valentine to a naughty cad is queered by tossed-off peculiarities like "I just wanna be friends with you/Everybody seems so scared of you/They say that you eat kids, too."