Scout LaRue Willis announces her remarkable self-titled debut album today. Imbued with wistful melodies and eloquent, eccentric arrangements, the record is a coming-of-age masterpiece that showcases a young auteur turning her darkest fears into hopeful songs. A skilled songwriter and artist who has collaborated with the likes of Nicolas Jaar, Willis always aspired to a musical career but something held her back. “Somewhere between fear and misperception I had this idea that I shouldn’t and couldn’t pursue music full time,” Willis explains. “Later though, I realized this was just a very clever way to hide from the deep, unconscious fear I had around sharing myself and my art with the world.” It took a few years, but this fear would ultimately be channeled into Willis teaching herself to play guitar in 2016 and write her own music for the first time, and this self-titled album is the first peek into her gorgeous sonic world.
The album’s lead single is the anthemic “Woman At Best,” which receives a stunning visual accompaniment by Lili Peper and Scout LaRue Willis. She previously shared “Love Without Possession” and “Shouldn’t I Be,” which earned praise from the likes of NPR Music.
On the lead single, Scout shares “Woman at best is a love letter to Sacred feminine rage. It’s an anthemic celebration of the courage it takes to make the tough decisions in life and love, that while for your highest good, can feel excruciating. It’s about finally stepping away from something both toxic and intoxicating. This song is an ode to feminine creativity, sexuality and freedom, to the idea that I can be all of it without hiding or withholding any piece of myself. I wrote this song with a near prescient clarity, precisely describing the arc of a relationship I wouldn’t enter till months after it was written. It was one of the only songs on the album that Showed me exactly what kind of production it called for. From the very earliest stages Of writing it I heard a choir, I heard a huge string section, this song wanted to be big and proud and unapologetic. It was so incredible to hear it come to life in the studio. Even then it brought me to the edge of my own discomfort and pushed me beyond my perceived limitations.”
- Love Without Possession
- Little Wolf
- Do You Trust Me Enough
- Mysterious Ways
- Woman at Best
- Blue Moon
- Red Road Home
- Shouldn’t I Be
- Last Night
More information on Scout LaRue Willis:
From her first lonely notes on “Blue Moon” until the final rowdy sing-along on “Red Road Home,” Scout LaRue Willis comes across as an artist who grounds her music in vivid inspiration as well as honest experience; In the exquisitely simple and authentic expression of Patsy Cline, in strange dreams half remembered upon waking, in old cowboy trail songs, in the 1960s classic rock passed down by her father like an heirloom, in the everyday challenges of being a human and in the operatic way Roy Orbison delights in his voice. Willis constantly marshals her resolve as she conveys hard truths in her graceful rasp: “And I will pass this test, ‘cause I know I am strong,” she declares on the anthemic “Woman at Best.” “I won’t call out your name, I’ll just sing out this song.”
While it’s immediately apparent that she’s an original voice, it took her many years to find the courage to share it. After harboring tender, childhood aspirations of being a musician, she felt discouraged by certain experiences in high school and all but suppressed the dream. It wasn’t until she started writing songs and singing as one-half of the duo Gus + Scout while at Brown University that she realized it was something she could really pursue. In between classes they managed to tour and record a 2012 EP that mixes early rock and doo-wop sounds. “We’d go away for the weekend, play a little festival and then have to come back and finish papers. It was thrilling getting to run away and moonlight as a rockstar for a little while.” The pair paused musically upon graduation, and Willis spent years believing she couldn’t pursue music as a career due to hear fears and self-judgement.
In February of 2016 Willis played her first ever solo show and began writing prolifically. After a number of years of feeling lost with her work, this was a moment of rededicating herself wholly to music. Though she knew she wanted to make an album, the songs she wrote during this period were also a means of processing the intensity of her emotions, “I’d have feelings that were so enormous I thought they’d destroy me, and the best tool I had at my disposal was music, so I would just start writing. I wrote ‘Love Without Possession’ in the throes of massive love addiction. I wrote it in real time, as it was all happening, and performed it live the day I finished it, as a means of communicating with the person I wrote it about. I was nearly crying onstage, such high drama! Even with all of the emotional ups and downs, it was such a beautiful and growth provoking time in my life!”
Even as she compiled a poignant and honest catalog of songs, Willis made little progress towards recording and releasing them. “In my conscious mind, I really wanted to get my musical career off the ground and share my work, it always felt like there was a wrench in the machine though and nothing was happening.” She says of the period between 2017 and 2019 especially “Ultimately, I came to realize that I was unconsciously holding myself back, which made sense because of course music is the thing I am most proud of in the world, it’s my heart laid bare and if I were to finally share that and still be found lacking somehow, either internally or externally, it would feel like death! After this realization it became much easier to be compassionate towards the parts of myself that were terrified to wholeheartedly pursue the thing that matters most to me. I came to see how this old story and the protective mechanisms around it had been running the show, enabling me to find a million different reasonable excuses to put it off” Understanding the subtle workings of her inner world proved to be the key because within a few months of that epiphany, Willis was in the studio recording her debut solo record.
Working with Producer Greg Papania (Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani) at Lucy’s Meat Market, an intimate studio in Highland Park, California, Willis set about searching for the ultimate version of each song—the version that would most effectively and deliciously deliver the truth of her lyrics. The songs are all centered around her unique voice and inventive guitar playing, with imaginative flourishes of strings and theremin.
Scout LaRue Willis is, ultimately, a record of personal growth. It’s both an ode to the relationships that have helped her grow and to the relationship she has developed with herself. This album is a love letter to not only her triumph, but to her pain as well, to music as a healing force, and it offers her a vantage point to see how far she’s come. “Looking back through the lens of this album and my own personal growth work, I’m in love with every experience that inspired these songs, every moment of challenge, heartbreak and victory, because each of them conspired to get me to this exact moment and I’ve never been more in love with myself and my life than I am right now. I feel like I am singing these songs to the girl I was—that young, thrashed, courageous version of myself who just kept making art no matter what. I feel so grateful to finally be at this point, ready to send these stories out into the world to have a life of their own.”