An Elephant Never Forgets

I didn’t know what a brute I was.

Neko Case

Vengeance is Sleeping

I’ve given a lot of attention to CBC Radio 2 concerts on this blog.  With a couple of CBC Radio 3 hosts coming on the podcast in the next few weeks I thought I would dip into their archive a few times this month.  I’m starting with a recent appearance by Neko Case.  She is playing 5 tunes from her new album Middle Cyclone. I, like most people came to love the decidely retro musical stylings of Neko with her previous effort, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and her earlier work with The New Pornographers.  She has a classic voice, like the sound of a 1950’s songstress, and plays very rootsy songs.  I have another performance of hers on CD and I may look at it later.  She has been around the Canadian music scene for many years, and although she was born in America, she fits in here just fine. If you are unfamiliar with her work, go here.

This in session appearance is somewhat stripped down to guitar, lead and harmony vocal.  I have yet to hear all of her new album (more of a case of lacking disposable income than anything else) but I certainly hope to soon.  As seems to usually be the case with Case the songs are short and succinct with only one braving the territory beyond the 3 minute mark.  She is such an effortless singer, and to me it seems that she doesn’t need to try to sound incredible.  I greatly appreciate that Case seems to shine in live performance as much as in the studio.  Some musicians sacrafice the quality of their performance when playing life, either through inferior musicianship or being caught up in the moment. Neko Case brings a top quality effort everytime.

As with her previous album, these tracks invoke images of starry nights in the desert and coast to coast road trips.  I don’t think she intends this, but that’s what happens in my mind.  If I was to make a movie about farm life during the great depression I would use Neko Case for my soundtrack.  I’m not implying that her music is depressing, but that it sets the perfect mood for life on the land.

Interestingly, during That Teenage Feeling Case ventures into using chords I’ve never heard from her.  The song has moments of what Leonard Cohen once called “major lifts,” and the guitar travels towards more familiar acoustic indie songs, reminiscient of Joel Plaskett for example.  I comment on it only because it was a surprise to me.

Of the 5 songs in this performance I had only heard People Got A Lotta Nerve.  I was not impressed with it when I first heard it, but this version seems a bit more enjoyable.  I have a sense it might be a song that grows on me over time.  Sometimes I find whole albums are that way, see my review of the latest Verve effort for an example.  Hold On Hold On was my favourite followed by Vengeance Is Sleeping.  The overall performance is a short distraction for a rainy day.

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