Mon Nov 9 2009
Beacon Theatre; Mon 16
Some album titles just don’t match up with what’s inside the sleeve: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, for example, or Madonna’s Erotica. But flame-haired singer Neko Case naming her latest album after a tornado—Middle Cyclone—is a brilliant call, as apt a summing-up of her singular talent as you could hope for.
“She’s like a pitcher with a 120-mile-an-hour fastball,” says A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers (the band that launched Case), referring to her magnificent voice. Case has been compared to such country greats as Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, but there’s a volatility and a thrilling messiness to her sound. On Middle Cyclone, she casts herself variously as an affectionate tornado, a killer whale and a brutish lover, throwing down heart-stalling insights with seeming carelessness (on the album’s title track, she sings, “To be a spiderweb trapped in your lashes, for that I would trade you my empire for ashes”).
Unsurprisingly, the mix of badassness and vulnerability that runs through Case’s songs is born of a rough childhood. (She writes on her website: “My parents very much wanted me to become a crack-whore, but I gravely disappointed them by graduating from college.”) These days, the singer spends her time looking after four rescued dogs, kickboxing and voicing a sexy cartoon character on Adult Swim. “My courage is roaring like the sound of the sun,” she sings on “I’m an Animal.” We certainly wouldn’t disagree.—Sophie Harris
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