Top positive review
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The wonderful follow up to 2002's 'Blacklisted'
on 25 March 2006
Neko Case is a busy goddess, flitting between work with the prolific outfit The New Pornographers, the odd mini-LP mail-order, a live recording and her own solo career (...sadly no continuation of the rather sexy pics Case made a few years ago...you can't have everything!). 'Fox Confessor...' continues the progression 'Blacklisted' made on the earlier material recorded with her then Boyfriends, 'The Virginian' and 'Furnace Room Lullaby.' I've been hooked since John Peel played 'Twist the Knife'- the sound of Case's last solo LP fitted into the Americana rubric, somewhere between country, gospel,roots and soul and fitting into the same universe as Daniel Lanois' work with Emmylou Harris. Where Neko with the New Pornographers is like Debbie Harry hanging with The Knack on a Brian Wilson tip, Ms Case's solo career exploits her gorgeous vocals. Bessie and Patti...and down the line there is Neko.
As with 'Blacklisted', Case co-produces with Darryl Neudorf, composing all the songs, and with an able supporting cast including Calexico (Joey Burns and John Convertino - formerly of Giant Sand), The Sadies, Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Kelly Hogan (more of her sexy background vocals!), Paul Rigby, and on several tracks, Garth Hudson (formerly of The Band and contributor to records by Mercury Rev, Norah Jones, & The Secret Machines new one!).
I've only listened to 'Fox...' a few times, but like certain records - Cat Power's 'The Greatest', Laura Veirs' 'Carbon Glacier', Emmylou's 'Stumble from Grace' - all of which feel like relatives, this is one of those undeniably wonderful records. Highlights thus far...well all of it, but the ones that stand out for me are 'Star Witness', 'Dirty Knife', 'That Teenage Feeling', opener 'Margaret Vs. Pauline' & the title track. Songs like 'A Widow's Toast' take feel not far from Jolie Holland and the Be Good Tanyas, but given a Lanois-style treatment.
'Fox Confessor..' is undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2006, certainly going to be amongst my favourites alongside 'The Greatest', the new Low LP, Giant Drag's 'Hearts & Unicorns', the new Drive By Truckers & Willard Grant Conspiracy and the Loose Fur LP. Let's hope Neko tours the UK soon - and maybe somewhere like Birmingham where I would have the pleasure?