If the album art wasn’t enough of a hint, Middle Cyclone is fun. For Neko Case, iron-clad country-noir songstress, this is a bit of an adjustment — and a big success. While one won’t mistake “People Got A Lotta Nerve” for “Miss Teen Wordpower,” some of Neko’s moonlighting time with the New Pornographers seems to have seeped into her approach for Middle Cyclone, her fifth studio album and easily her most relaxed. At first glance, little has changed: her vaunted voice remains a beckoning bell surrounded by the dusty evocations of brushed drums and simmering guitars, and the songs would be right at home on 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood or 2002’s Blacklisted. That is, if they weren’t goofier than a neon tumbleweed. Opener “This Tornado Loves You” sets the tone with a ode to a lost lover pursued, literally, by narrator Neko as a tornado “65 miles wide.” On “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” she sings about being a “man-eater”; I keep waiting for Timbaland to come in on the hook. Placing these songs in the time-tested context of a Neko Case Album ought to ignite a little cognitive dissonance; luckily for our neurons, it’s just the sound of the singer letting her hair down. I’m sure none of the gentleman in the audience will want to complain about that.
Neko Case – “People Got A Lotta Nerve”: mp3
(Middle Cyclone is out now on Anti-)
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