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Cover Art

Scout Niblett ( )

Sweet Heart Fever
Secretly Canadian ( http://www.secretlycanadian.com/ @secretlycndian )

UK-based Emma Louise Niblett is a continental troubadour, a maternal bedtime storyteller, a lost soul, an angry den mother, a dissonant noise-generating chanteuse, a siren, and a million other things. Sweet Heart Fever simply features Emma, her guitar, her voice, and some bare percussion just to help propel things a little where she sees fit.

Unfortunately, shallower ears will draw allusions to the Phairs, Harveys, and similar contemporaries. Academic ears will hear Sandy Denny, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, etc. Music-loving ears will hear a record of alarming depth in almost minimalist simplicity. Niblett's voice can alter from a soothing lull (ie; the traditional "Lula"), chant-alongs ("Ground Breaking Service"), and then to almost roaring twenties cabaret-stylings ("Wet Road").

These references are just based around her vocal stylings. The guitar work is earnest, sparse, at times discordant and explosive ("Miss My Lion"), and dissonant ("Into"), and again, the title track reveals some source inspiration in both it's performance and execution.Sweet Heart Fever has the quality of a Lomax-collected field recording: folk-blues in the most traditional sense. In the guitar there is even a hint of Black Sabbath if you listen closely enough to lead-off out of the verse. Niblett, is after all, willing to hail the Sabbath as one of the few decent things that has emerged from her native Midlands.

The standout track is "Dance Of Sulphur". With its waltz-like feel, it carries you through all of the Scout Niblett devices mentioned previously. And the lyrical content, with all its use of metaphor, honest declarations and proclamations, could not complement the music more perfectly. If we were to try to attempt pick apart this record any more, it wouldn't come any closer to doing any justice to what one hears. It's simply contingent on you giving it some of your own time.

RECOMMENDED TRACKS: "Ground Breaking Service", "Into", "Dance Of Sulphur"

Reviewer: Stephen Dohnberg, CFBU Radio, St. Catharines, ON

By Stephen Dohnberg
Apr 27, 2002

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