Emma Scarr – Scarred For Life
Unbiased – Out Now
As effectively as being one half of Black*Scarr with Johnny Black, Emma Scarr has a parallel solo profession, albeit she’s been somewhat lax on that depend with this being her first album as such in 9 years. And, recorded in lockdown, save for Garry Smith remotely contributing slide, 12 string, Tricone resonator and mandola on three tracks, it’s a completely one-woman affair, Scarr taking part in all of the devices, which embody desk banging percussion however no drums or electrical bass, with the music’s influences encompassing nation, Americana, conventional and folk-punk, delivered in an unvarnished, raspy however compelling vocal at instances evocative of Kirsty MacColl.
The fabric encompasses beforehand unrecorded songs from the previous 15 years, alongside two from 2020, one of many former offering the opener with Kathy O’Toole, a memory of a pal from her teenage years, a painter and decorator from Eire, that received the primary Watford Folks Tune Competitors in 2015. A celebration of the musical debt owed to the Irish musicians with whom she performed in London through the 90s, it slowly jogs alongside as, accompanied by strummed mandolin, fiddle and whistle, she unfolds the reminiscences.
The harmonica haunted, cascading melody of Once I Used To Drink continues the reflective be aware with its reminiscences of a as soon as over-affectionate relationship with the bottle and the safety and companionship it supplied, adopted on with the lurching mazurka-feel to Sirens In July because it talks of the common drought-caused yearly fires on Wanstead Flats, harmonica including a contact of the spaghetti westerns.
A reference to the secluded waters of Snaresbrook on the tip of Epping Forest, taken at a delicate, rueful tempo The Ballad of Hole Ponds is extra particularly a track about getting older and the way life portrayed on the movie posters and in songs is never akin to the true factor, exchanging the fiery ardour of youth for rowing and watching the ripples.
Nonetheless inside Epping Forest, driving a mandola wave and electrical guitar break, My Debden Prince is a straightforward rootsy love track, to be adopted in a gradual sway-along with the harmonica-blowing, easy drum thump, mandolin shimmering Final 12 months’s Joke, a close to six-minute wry (not essentially autobiographical) self-portrait musing on a previous dysfunctional relationship into which she plunged headlong (“moderation’s not one thing I can do”) solely to be left beached (“I do know nothing of males or middle-aged intercourse”) and wallowing within the rage and self-pity of a 14-year-old.
It’s again to an uptempo, lurching driving strum, Irish folks flurries and alcohol as a crutch for lack of self-worth with the shoulder of assist on provide in Molly What’s Your Poison? earlier than the lyrical GPS once more locates to Essex with River Blackwater, a sub-tributary of the Thames that rises close to Saffron Walden, a stream alongside, squeezebox colored romantic getaway from the city each day grind, laughing like a loon at the same time as she ponders storm clouds gathering in her thoughts
It ends, first, with the fiddle and mandolin-led folk-punk bounce and harmonica solo of Keep, a track a couple of can’t reside with you, can’t reside with out you relationship which may effectively be the characters from Fairytale of New York someplace additional down the road, and, lastly, placing an identical thematic be aware (and with imprecise musical echoes of the aforementioned), the sway-along, shanty-ish Blackberry Selecting, a fruit-based fable a couple of relationship wherein the narrator’s companion is rarely happy and at all times needs extra and higher. Each she and Black have gathered a strong following for his or her albums and reside exhibits in and round their stomping floor, this terrific album as soon as once more reinforcing that their music, collectively or solo, is deserving of a far wider and much greater viewers.
Order through Bandcamp: https://emmascarr.bandcamp.com/