Tag Archives: folk rock

Neko Case

I’m going to see Neko Case on Thursday, you guys, and I’m so excited! I’ve been going over in my head which songs she’ll probably perform and which ones I hope she’ll perform. So here are my predictions, keeping in mind I’ve never seen her in concert before, so I don’t know what kind of songs she favors performing live.

It’ll be a lot of The Harder I Fight, of course. I think “Man” is guaranteed, which is good because I’m betting it sounds awesome live. It certainly sounds like it was meant to be performed live. I think we’ll probably get “Night Still Comes” which I actually really want to hear. The likelihood is fairly high — they’ve been playing it in the theaters at my local AMC before they start the pre-movie stuff (not the previews, but the commercials. If you’ve been to an AMC, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

“Bracing for Sunday,” “City Swan,” and “Local Girl” are likely. I wouldn’t mind hearing “Calling Cards.” I’m hopeful for “Ragtime” because I really like it as an album closer, though I don’t think it’ll be a concert closer. (That might just be “Man.”) And I really, really LOVE the dressed-down version of “Magpie to the Morning” on the deluxe version of The Harder I Fight. I’m really hoping she plays this version because I really like the way it sounds with the banjo and the guitar.

Moving chronologically backwards to Middle Cyclone, I would be THRILLED if she played “This Tornado Loves You.” It’s my favorite song off of that album, and one of my top five favorite Neko Case songs of all time.

I’d like to hear “The Pharaohs” but I don’t think it’s likely. However, “People Got A Lotta Nerve” is very likely. Possibly “Red Tide” and “Prison Girls” too.

Moving on to Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, I would absolutely LOVE to hear “Margaret Vs. Pauline” (another top 5 favorite) If she played that and “This Tornado Loves You” that would be wonderful. I’d like to hear “Hold On, Hold On,” and I think the odds of that are pretty good. “Lion’s Jaws” would be nice, but maybe not likely. I’d like “Maybe Sparrow” too, and I think that’s more likely. Other than that, I think the title track “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” might be played, maybe.

Next up is my favorite (and first) Neko Case album, Blacklisted. If she played “Things That Scare Me”…Oh my goodness, if she played that one along with “Margaret Vs. Pauline” and “This Tornado Loves You” I think THAT might my perfect Neko concert. She can play anything else. I would just love love LOVE to hear “Things That Scare Me.” It was love at first listen for me. Instant favorite. I knew I was in for the long haul with Neko when I heard that song. Can’t say the likelihood of that one though…

Other than that one, “Deep Red Bells” just might be played — and that’s okay because I really like it! I love “Outro With Bees” but I’m not holding my breath. “Lady Pilot” is a maybe! “Stinging Velvet” would be lovely, and possible. Overall, the odds for anything on this album are pretty low. I’m guessing she’ll play very, very few songs from this album, if any.

If she plays anything else, it’ll be a puzzle to me! I don’t have any of the albums she made with Her Boyfriends, though I’ve been meaning to get them. In any case, I’m really looking forward to it! And I hope she’s a talker. (If she is, I’ll bet she’s sassy.) I love it when performers talk to their audience. I’d love the know the meaning behind “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu.” That song haunts me when I hear it.

In any case, I’m looking forward to her setlist, whatever it may be! And don’t worry, I’m not one of those people who shouts requests at the stage. I can’t stand those people. It’s like, I don’t know what hole-in-the-wall dive bar you go to see that band with the homeless, drunk drummer, but professional artists have setlists and they have them for a reason. Sheesh.

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Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

Late last year, NPR ran this piece about the top ten most loved albums by women. The list included, at #5, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood by Neko Case. Neko and her album are up there with some of the Greats. Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday… That’s some pretty lofty praise!

I think the album is pretty deserving. Why must the greatest albums be 40 years old (or older)? Why does it seem that a certain amount of time must pass for an album to qualify as “greatest”? Anyway, this sounds like it was fairly objective poll, when you set aside where the pool comes from.

What makes it so great? Let’s start with the opening song, “Margaret Vs. Pauline,” which is an instant favorite of mine. It lulls you with minimal guitar strings, then Neko’s voice comes in strong, but not overpowering. She tells the story of two women, very different from each other – one adored and the other ignored. One unbelievably blessed and the other inexplicably unlucky. It just breaks your heart with the line about the relative misfortunes each has to face: The worst thing to happen to Pauline was that she left her sweater on the train. Margaret lost three fingers at the cannery.

And then (later) there’s “Hold On, Hold On.” At the time it was the only autobiographical song Neko had ever written; it was actually about her. Something about the lines “In the end I was the mean girl/Or somebody’s in-between girl” just gets me.

“A Widow’s Toast” is a fantastic minimal track – Minimal and yet somehow Neko’s voice sounds larger than life. “Specters move like pilot flames” is such a great image.

A little gospel comes into play in “John Saw That Number,” probably the most upbeat song on the album.

“Lion’s Jaws” is another favorite of mine. Neko’s voice sounds so sultry and heavy – which is appropriate for a tale of seduction. Maybe it’s just my imagination running wild, but I picture two old friends at a high school reunion (20 or 30 years, at least) having one last dance together as they remember the night they once spent together after prom. It’s got this sort of melancholy, slow-dance feel to it.

The poetic “Maybe Sparrow” comes next. It’s melodic and plaintive and Neko’s voice works so well with the music to tell the story of this sparrow.

Actually, every song tells a story on this album. Whether it’s about Neko, the people or places she knew, or things she was just totally making up, every song stands out on its own, with some stand out lines that make me pause to really listen to them. And her voice? Just amazing. She has so much control over it, and it complements the instruments so well. They balance each other perfectly.

Fox Confessor is the music equivalent of a book of poetry. Will people still look back on it as one of the greatest albums 40 years from now? I think if more people heard it, they might. Neko Case occupies a comfortable place between wildly popular and vaguely indie. I do wish more people would give her a listen though. This is such a powerful album and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t heard of Neko Case.

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