It usually takes a real artist several tries to record a strong, impactful album. Amelia Scalies has done it her first time around with I Should’ve Known. A really good eclectic mix of music ranging from alt country, pop and alt rock, Amelia Scalies is Liz Phair, Courtney Love, Avril Lavigne rolled into one, with the deep reflective songwriting of later PJ Harvey and heavy emotional, heartfelt lyrics of Alanis Morissette. But this girl can rock out, and rock out she does as well as go pop, even doing something ballsy by covering and giving her own fantastic version of one the most critically acclaimed songs of the last ten years. I Should’ve Known is a virtually flawless, fearless debut CD from an artist that you will most certainly be hearing more about in 2014.
Scalies comes at you hard with the fast, garage rock “Bottom Of the Ocean” which, despite its heavy guitar riffs, its lyrics express the hurt feelings that come with being alone. “Small Talk Friends” is another amazing, heavy duty rock track about gossip, backstabbing friendships and how Scalies deals with it by being stronger and walking away from it. The Avril Lavigne inspired “More Than Words” is followed by the beautiful acoustic, country-esque poetic ballad “Rose Blossom.” “Memory” could easily be a track off of the absolutely brilliant PJ Harvey album Uh Huh Her, a moving, confessional single with some of the album’s best songwriting . . . “I heard the words you said to me, in my mind it’s like a symphony. You’ll live to regret how you shook me out your memory. I’m good at slipping through the cracks. I’m taking chances and I’m coming back.”
The title track is a slick, up tempo rock number that moves the album away from the harder, fiercer material into the much softer, reflective songwriting on the album’s second half. From the heartbreaking, tearjerker lyrics on “Rise,” the twangy, emotional “Macy Brown (Green-Eyed Girl) which looks at the deep meaning of friendships developing into something more romantic, to “What I Should’ve Said,” a painful, melancholy tune about regret, reminding all not to take for granted those you cherish in your life. “When I was a young girl, I believed in fairies. When I was a young girl, the world wasn’t scary. That little girl is lost. It was you who paid the cost. I never said I love you. That’s my life’s regret,” are as good as lyrics get nowadays.
The most surprising track is Scalies’ cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome To the Black Parade” deemed one of the best, most critically acclaimed singles of the previous decade. Scalies’ version is softer in vocal tone but just as bombastic musically as the original. She goes on to own it, hitting every note perfectly and still manages to keep the spirit and meaning of the song intact. I Should’ve Known is simply put a gem; one of the best album by a debut artist this year on all levels—songwriting, music, production . . . A career making album for this musically gifted young artist.