Neko is a major poet by any standard, a songwriter less interested perhaps in traditional narrative form than in distilling a pure moment of time. She claims no genre, nor utilizes any classic formula for her songs and singing. More than anything she thrives in the spaces in between her music. After two years in the making, "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood" is in many ways the sum total of her journey.
Nine seconds into her first studio album since 2002's Blacklisted
, and there it is. You can't miss it. The voice.
Instantly recognizable and uniquely commanding, it has been uniformly overlooked by the masses and beloved by those who have caught on. And, believe it or not, it gets even better, whether Neko Case is warbling like a porch-swing neighbor to Loretta Lynn ("Margaret vs. Paulene," "John Saw That Number"), pontificating from the spiritual pulpit of Etta James ("Lion's Jaws," "Maybe Sparrow"), or unleashing the high-octane zeal of a power-pop spitfire ("Hold On Hold On," "The Needle Has Landed"). Her uncanny, often eccentric lyrics have always been delivered with an inherent passion behind the impulse, but rarely have they approached the boldness of these dozen--many of which were inspired by generations of tales from her Ukrainian ancestors. As usual, Case's industry running buddies collaborate to make the sounds behind her, from Calexico to Howe Gelb of Giant Sand to the Band's renowned Garth Hudson. Still, it all comes back to the voice, that serenading urgency that asks in the title song, "How can people not know what beauty this is?" Yes, there are some to ask, how not? --Scott Holter
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