Middle Cyclone Neko Case 2008, Epitaph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
there is no other musician i love and respect more than Neko Case. her aesthetic, her sense of language and melody, her vocals rich and passionate. i drove 1500 miles all by myself this summer to go see her play in Reno as a part of an odyssey of self-discovery and challenge. being exposed to her music has changed me as a songwriter and a person.

and it may well be that i suffer the bias of the blinkered by love.

i first came to know her work by being taken to a show she performed at the Crystal Ballroom some years back. the boy i was in love with in those days knows a thing or two about music (this is sort of like saying the ocean can be damp at times, but i digress) and i had come to trust his judgment on my behalf in terms of what i might enjoy. before i left the show i had scampered over to the merch table and bought the CD she was touring to promote, and i have been a devotee since.
however, it was not love at first listen with this record. she didn’t stray significantly from her style, themes, or tone, but for some reason i found this album much less approachable than Fox Confessor. over the weeks that i’ve had it, i’ve come like it more and more and am ultimately very positive about this effort.

with her customary wit and tenderness there are moments in this record that simply shimmer. from the title track “Middle Cyclone”a winsome and spare track with words to make the jaw ache:

say someone made a fool of me; well i can show ’em how it’s done

can’t give up actin’ tough, it’s all that i’m made of…

i still can’t tell precisely what “Prison Girls” is meant to be about, but the refrain i love your long shadows, and your gunpowder eyes draws me in every time i hear it.

from “Vengence is Sleeping”

i’m not the man you thought i was…

you’re the one that i still miss, yes you’re the one that i still miss, and the truth is that it comes as no surprise

by far my favorite track on this album has to be “The Pharohs” whose opening line hooked me the first time i heard in under the desert sky back in August…

we were married in the mirrored hall when i was sixteen, you spoke the words ‘i love girls in white leather jackets’ it was good enough for love, it was good enough for me

and the line which anchors this whole album for me…

you said i was your new blue baby, and you were right…

overall i’d say this is a satisfying offering. for those who are already fans, it delivers everything fans expect; solid melody, haunting lyrics, dynamic vocals and a passion unique to Neko. not to mention lots of references to birdies…