Neko Case: Middle Cyclone

By: Dennis Cook

From the Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! style woman warrior on a muscle car cover through the just-polished-enough constructions inside, Neko Case's lastest effort oozes strength, confidence and style. A fair remove from the gospel touched, poetry dappled apocalyptica of Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (see JamBase review here), Case's sixth studio release moves her a touch closer to her work in the New Pornographers, adding distant folk inflection and nuance to what is undeniably the offspring of '60s girl singer fare. She is very much this generation's Dusty Springfield or Peggy Lee – potent, seductive, smart and varied. Where she greatly differentiates from her forebears is in her songwriting, which is increasingly honed – a lean, highly effective tool for getting at things that recalls Richard Thompson's sharp pen in the '80s. It don't hurt that she delivers her tunes in a voice that'd make Phil Spector toss her in his car trunk and abscond to some secluded studio to make records as cool as his heyday. She also has the great taste to cover Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me," which automatically earns her several shiny gold stars. Just about everything about Middle Cyclone (released March 3 on Anti) speaks to classic sensibilities; one would have no problem throwing this on the CD changer with Elvis, Simon and Garfunkel, Buddy Holly and The Crystals. Pals Howe Gelb and Calexico help out, as well as longtime sidekicks singer Kelly Hogan and guitarist Paul Rigby, and each turns in fine performances, though this is entirely Case's show right down to the arrangements and general feel. It's not without its flaws – the environmental hecktoring "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Nature" (a Sparks cover) is a misstep that draws one out of the album's general spell and there's a mid-tempo blah that sets in after a while – but overall Middle Cyclone is about as well made as an album can be.

JamBase | Inside A Twister
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[Published on: 3/12/09]

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kearneyval Fri 3/13/2009 11:05AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

God she's great.

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/13/2009 12:19PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I'ma gonna get me this here album.