from her album no roof no floor, live at The Chicken Shack.
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“Home” is a tough thing to pinpoint for someone who’s constantly in motion. Scout Gillett knows this well, but since relocating from Kansas City in 2017, she’s found one in Brooklyn’s DIY scene, playing in multiple live bands and even starting her own booking company to organize local shows. Her intrepid nature results from a childhood spent running barefoot through rural Missouri and coming of age in Kansas City’s punk scene. Her debut solo album no roof no floor is a bold and spirited yet warm, intimate meditation on trust, surrender, and what makes a home.
Following the sudden overdose of a lover in 2018 and the onset of the 2020 quarantine, Scout returned to Missouri in search of reprieve. Instead, she was dismayed to find that her hometown was suffering; friends and family members were caught in the grips of drug and alcohol addiction. Overcome by grief and helplessness, she retreated inward, channeling her fears and frustrations, as she always had, into songwriting. The resulting songs were more vulnerable than any of her prior work, and it was a while before the notion of sharing them even occurred to her. Then Nick Kinsey, the album’s producer, called from his recording studio The Chicken Shack in Stanfordville, New York to tell Scout that his friends Ellen Kempner (Palehound) and David Lizmi (MS MR) had relocated upstate, and were interested in working on an album with her.
Recorded in a big wooden barn with the doors wide open, there’s a sense of spaciousness on no roof no floor befitting its title. On some songs, there are even audible cricket chirps. The arrangements, too—which feature contributions from Kempner, Lizmi, and Kevin Copeland (The Big Net)—reflect Scout’s rural roots and her indie spirit; a fusion of upbeat, guitar-driven melodies and folk/country instrumentation like pedal steel, harmonica, and tenor banjo. All of these elements are underpinned by Scout’s signature soaring, velvet vocals and openhearted lyricism. She arrives at her thesis on the haunting six-minute centerpiece “hush, stay quiet”: “you can only save yourself,” she muses over a resolute guitar. We can’t always know what to expect, even in a place we’ve been before. With a little trust, though, we can find a safe place within. No roof required.
For fans of Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Julia Jacklin, Molly Burch, Aldous Harding.