Having had flashes of greatness on her past four albums, Neko Case has finally produced a work that is consistently great. Twelve dark jewels dangling on a charm bracelet, each song is exquisitely composed and intricately shaped. As ever, the vocal work is unparallelled, like a more palatable Loretta Lynne or a less cloying Patsy Cline; on the gospel barnstormer John Saw the Number the delivery is reminiscent of Elvis on tip top form in its vitality.
This album really sees Case come into her own as a songwriter. While previous albums have included one or two great original songs and plenty of others that were simply very good, FCBTF contains only great songs. From the tale of inequality and envy of the opener Margaret Vs Pauline right through to the touching tale of a lost companion of the closing track The Needle Has Landed the album is shot through dramatic imagery, dark humour, and emotive sentiments. Aided by by a stellar cast of musicians, the tracks are realised to fantastic effect.
Really, even if you are put off by the country label, you should check this album out. It is, put simply, brilliant. Almost indecently so.