Most people know Johnette Napolitano as the singer and bassist of Concrete Blonde, but throughout her career, she's had a hand in several side projects, including The Heads (with Talking Head Tina Weymouth), a duo called Vowel Movement, and the bands Pretty & Twisted and Catfish Scar. Amazingly, she's been in the music biz more than 25 years, but Scarred is only her third solo album, and it's arguably the best work of her career. From the sharp snare beats and half-spoken delivery of the opening track, "Amazing," to a somber cover of Lou Reed's "All Tomorrow's Parties" near the end of the album, this record sounds like an artist finally freeing herself from expectations and just doing what she feels, which is sharing stories and setting introspective poetics against sharp, haunting soundscapes. Napolitano will be 50 this fall, but her voice hasn't lost a bit of its smoky, soulful edge, and there's a sincerity to the songs that can only come from reeling in the years. When she wails, "I am so scarred" on the title track, it has an effect of empathy and commiseration that's just not there when emo teens wail about their woes.