A love letter to Neko Case

what you have to write when you don’t get to interview Neko Case. With a hat tip to Nubs Remsberg for his mentioned contribution.

Red-headed woman: A love letter to Neko Case

(From The Guide, 4/3/09)

In describing Neko Case, her soulful twang-tinged tunes, her rise to the top of the modern world of alt-country and her membership in the Canadian ultra-supergroup the New Pornographers, I’m drawn, of course, to Greek mythology. A friend and devoted Neko fan describes it like this: “Neko is Circe, or maybe one of the Sirens. We’re all Odysseus tied to the mast of the ship while Neko stands on the shore, singing lovely, gentle songs to lure us back to her island, where we will all be shipwrecked and die. But what a great death it would be.”

You can judge for yourself tonight when Case stops at Savannah’s Trustees Theater as part of the Savannah Music Festival.

Neko Case, Crooked Fingers

When: 7 p.m. April 3

Where: Trustees Theatre, 216 E. Broughton St., Savannah

Tickets: $20-$30

Information: 912-525-5050, savannahmusicfestival.org
Case’s voice asserts her place in that vaunted sorority of indie-rock musicians whose vocals are the important weapons in their arsenal (see also Cat Power). And it’s that voice that lets Case break out of the pack as a member of the New Pornographers, the Canadian maximalist indie-popsters, a group that specializes in big, catchy choruses, competing instrument hooks and back-and-forth alternating vocalists.

But Case’s solo career stands in contrast. She has produced a handful of albums over the past decade that brim with throwbacks to rock-infused country romps (I’m talking Loretta Lynn and Whiskeytown, not Gretchen Wilson and Kenny Chesney). Her tones are reserved and measured, her songs deep and personal, sometimes spacious. Occasionally she picks up a clip-clop energetic pace, boosted by warbling mandolins and banjos.

Her latest album, “Middle Cyclone,” released earlier this month, is a windstorm of Case’s interior monologue and personal causes — usually animal rights and environmentalism. “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” with its chorus, “I’m a man-eater, and still you’re surprised when I eat you,” sounds like a self-reprobation over destructive tendencies, but in reality, it’s a defense of caged animals. “I’m An Animal,” conversely, defends her own mammalian instincts.

Case is at her best when she rides the line between rock and traditional folk and country. Her live album, 2004’s “The Tigers Have Spoken,” is the best example of this; high-energy tracks such as “Loretta” and “Soulful Shade of Blue” would sound equally at home in a Texas county fair as they would in a cramped Brooklyn club, and the slower-paced cover of “Wayfaring Stranger” shows her dexterity in recalling bluegrass roots. In all instances, though, she draws the listener into comfortable anachronisms that even Odysseus couldn’t resist.

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