On receiving the new Neko Case album through the post, it was a sure bet that there would be no disappointment to be had. Consistent quality has been a hallmark over the years - possessing a powerful, pitch perfect and captive voice, Neko Case is blessed with an ability to grab attention.
`The worse things get, the harder I fight...' is a real step forward! A grower, as most of her albums are, it is a mature, confident album of an artist in top form, supported by a stellar cast (M.Ward, Jim James, Joey Burns, John Convertino, Howe Gelb, Eric Bachmann....) In my experience, such support can often stifle an album, leading to bland, commercial mediocracy. My concern was just this, with artists such as Tift Merritt climbing the edges of the mainstream market. Not so here. There are a couple of songs which verge on a commercial sound, but Neko Case has written a terrific selection of songs, which are diverse, distinctive and in the main, utterly captivating.
It is hard (and futile) to pigeonhole her sound. There is a blend of country / alt country, folk and light rock influences as befits her upbringing, but there is so much more besides. Gently picked banjo to haunting a cappella, to pulsating rock (`Man'), to stunning atmospheric gems (`Calling Cards'). The lyrics too are strong - however, with such great tunes it could be gibberish as far as I'm concerned.
A great place to start if you're new to the artist. Top quality stuff and looking forward to the next offering!