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Music Review: Polly Scattergood – Polly Scattergood

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“I don’t see myself as a singer-songwriter, or even a singer,” Polly Scattergood clarifies (press release). “A singer-songwriter makes me think of someone who can sing properly — I’m not the best singer in the world, and I’m under no illusions that I am.”

That’s not something any artist would usually admit much less proclaim as the 22-year-old Essex, England-native wouldn’t hesitate to do. “I would describe myself as a songwriter who sings.”

And sings she does on her self-titled debut. While Scattergood insists her music is personal and not autobiographical, it’s hard to believe her when the words she sings carry so much sympathy and weight. Neither slight nor tongue-in-cheek, her lyrics provide a dose of reality missing in a world yearning for stark truth or escapist fun.

Polly Scattergood (photo by Mute Records)Her Myspace page describes her music as alternative, which would make anyone immediately shake their head no within ten seconds of listening to her. I’ve read “experimental pop” (to her horror), which oddly enough seems somewhat accurate. However, good ole Gracenote(or CDDB)is right on the money when it describes her as “Unclassifiable.” Hopefully it’s not a system quirk.

How else could the brooding of “I Hate The Way” or the rankling of “Other Too Endless” be explained? When she puts the sass in overdrive with a legendary Elvis Presley lyric for good measure in “Please Don’t Touch” only images of contemporary society come to mind and not nostalgic flashbacks of a seemingly prehistoric black and white world.

A cross between Joanna Newsom and Nellie McKay, Scattergood’s music merges the wryness and veracity of today’s cultural demands.

It isn’t until “I Am Strong” hits you like a pot of hot coffee that you truly understand how Scattergood feels. Strangely proper and downright genuine, the declarative lyrics are soft yet firm, unabashed yet poignant, simple yet powerful. It just might be the anthem of this generation.

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About Tan The Man

A proud dork and loser, Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music, and has previously covered the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest and WonderCon.