Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti, 2006)
With her flaming red hair and imposing good looks, Neko Case strikes an impressive pose, but that's nothing compared to the development of her singing and songwriting over the past few years. This album bathes her strong voice with echoing reverb, making her tales of love and loss seem even more apocalyptic. Case mixes country, folk and pop with an unusual deftness that sets her apart from the veritable army of female singer songwriters on todays music scene, and with backup from the likes of Calexico, one of the finest roots rock groups around, the music meshes very well with the lyrics.
Songs like "Star Witness" and "Margaret vs. Pauline" tackle working class themes and issues without the slightest smirk and are devastating performances. Surprising, but equally powerful are the gospel influences in the music, most overtly brought forth in "John Saw That Number." But the theme that most pervades the album is one of hope amidst a great struggle, exemplified by songs like "That Teenage Feeling" and "Maybe Sparrow" which acknowledge the hardships of ordinary life but never give into depression or clinched optimism, just small hard won triumphs. This album itself is a triumph of class, dignity and open minded musicians drawing from many different genres and ideas to create an impressive cohesive whole.
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