Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

Neko Case has enjoyed a pretty varied career with her all-girl punk band Maow, power popsters the New Pornographers and on her own country tinged releases. She is able to do the smoky old style country singing of a Patsy Cline and she also has the girl pop sass of a Debbie Harry. On Middle Cyclone, her 5th solo studio album, she gives us the best of both.

The album starts brilliantly with ‘My Tornado Loves You’, a more up-beat variation on the sound of her Blacklisted album. ‘People Got A Lotta Nerve’ may prove to be her breakthrough song, it has been getting a lot of radio play and it features as a download for the game Rock Band. As well as these poppier moments the album features some quieter, more thoughtful, songs. ‘Vengeance is Sleeping’ shows how good she is at the holding back, accompanied only by acoustic guitar and sparse piano for most of the song.

Case’s band is solid throughout, with contributions from members of Calexico, Giant Sand, Los Lobos, The Sadies and The Band’s Garth Hudson. But it is Case’s voice that is the key instrument on the record and the vocals are beautiful throughout.

The album doesn’t put a foot wrong, right through to the twanging guitar and crashing piano of the last song ‘Red Tide’. Even the final 31 minutes of insect noise, ‘Marais La Nuit’, is OK Recalling a more pastoral version of the runout groove at the end of Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hearts Club Band.

She may prove to be too pop for country fans and too country for pop fans, but that is their loss when she is producing albums this good.


by Dorian Rogers, Mar 2009


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