|Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (March 7th, 2006)|
Neko Case — Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (March 7th, 2006)
•• “The eight tracks here defy formula, instead feeding off of one another in a cannibalistic frenzy of samples and constantly shifting beats... This is a deceptive and brilliant album.” — Loop Static, Score: 100
•• “While the comparisons to Springsteen's Nebraska and Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator) are obvious, they don't do justice to Jurado's wholly original craft.” — Mojo [Jun 2003, p.98]
Born: September 8, 1970 in Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Location: Alexandria, Virginia ~ Vancouver, BC, CAN ~ Seattle, WA ~ Chicago, IL ~ Tucson, Arizona
Origin: Tacoma, Washington, United States
Genres: Indie rock, alternative country, folk–rock, americana
OTHERS: Carolyn Mark, Patsy Cline, Catherine Irwin, Woven Hand, Calexico
Occupations: Musician, songwriter
Instruments: Vocals, percussion, piano, guitar
Album release: March 7, 2006
Record Label: Mint / Anti Inc. (Outside in Canada)
01. Margaret Vs. Pauline 2:53
02. Star Witness 5:17
03. Hold On, Hold On [Case, The Sadies] 2:47
04. A Widow's Toast 1:37
05. That Teenage Feeling 2:43
06. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood [Case, Paul Rigby] 2:42
07. John Saw That Number [Traditional, Case] 4:06
08. Dirty Knife 3:19
09. Lion's Jaws 2:28
10. Maybe Sparrow 2:38
11. At Last 1:36
12. The Needle Has Landed [Case, The Sadies] 3:46
≡°≡ All songs written by Neko Case, except where noted.
≡°≡ Neko Case — vocals, acoustic & electric tenor guitars, acoustic & electric guitars, six–string electric guitar, tambourine, whirly bird, piano, hammer dulcimer
≡°≡ Garth Hudson — piano, organ
≡°≡ Mike Belitsky — drums
≡°≡ Paul Rigby — electric guitar, 12–string electric guitar, guitar loop
≡°≡ Joey Burns — acoustic guitar, upright bass, cello, nylon acoustic guitar
≡°≡ John Convertino — drums
≡°≡ Anne de Wolff — violin
≡°≡ Tom V. Ray — upright bass, bass
≡°≡ Travis Good — acoustic & electric guitars
≡°≡ Kelly Hogan — vocals
≡°≡ Dallas Good — electric & 12–string guitars
≡°≡ Sean Dean — upright bass
≡°≡ Rachel Flotard — backing vocals
≡°≡ Dexter Romweber — electric guitar
≡°≡ Howe Gelb — electric guitar, piano
≡°≡ Willie B — drums
≡°≡ Jon Rauhouse — banjo, Hawaiian guitar
≡°≡ Brian Connelly — acoustic guitar
≡°≡ Julie Morstad — artwork
♦♦♦ 2006 The Billboard 200 #54
♦♦♦ 2006 Top Independent Albums #4
♦♦♦ 2006 Top Internet Albums #54
Musical style, writing, and composition:
≡°≡ Upon its release, “Fox Confessor” was praised as Case’s most stunning album for many reasons. Not only does the album cover a wide range of emotions from resentment, to pity, to despair, and passionate romance, but it does so in a variety of styles. Case blends gospel and early rock influences along with her country twang voice. The artist, herself, likes to classify her new style as “country–noir”. In an NPR interview, Case tells of learning to be more dynamic with her powerful voice and many critics agree that she does so flawlessly while creating a cinematic, mysterious, and suspenseful feel.
≡°≡ In “Star Witness”, Case leaves many details out and creates a distinct mood around a vague story. Much of the album is praised for such masterful weaving of emotion and suggestive description. Case offers that the songs on this album were created by writing a lot of words and paring them back so that it is not “overly literal”. She gives hints and helps her listeners to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. “That Teenage Feeling” is praised as a 50’s–style pop ballad that suggests a memory of intense and passionate love, while “Hold On, Hold On” tells the story of the artist leaving a wedding reception, relieved to be alone, with drugs from the bride. In “John Saw That Number”, Case mixes words of “an old American spiritual with a musical idea from India” and “Widow’s Toast” is an example of the artist creating “more space on the record” in order to make what is there stand out. Case began recording the track with a full band, but the removed all components for the final product save her haunting voice and a drone. This track also deviates from the standard verse–chorus–verse structure of contemporary songs, making it a noteworthy addition to the album.
≡°≡ Case was born in Alexandria, Virginia, to teenage parents of Ukrainian ancestry. The original family name, changed before she was born, was Shevchenko. Her family traveled around while she was young before settling in Tacoma, Washington, the city she considers her hometown. She left home when she was fifteen. Her father was in the United States Air Force.
≡°≡ "Neko Case is on her way to well–deserved status as a music legend for our generation." — Bust Magazine
≡°≡ Neko Case's fourth studio album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, was simply one of the most anticipated and respected releases of 2006. Here, Neko stands poised, ready to break into the company of mavericks like Wilco, Beck, and Elliott Smith; like them she transcends genres and demographics, older fans swooning to her roots–infused vocal stylings as alternative kids dig her New Pornographers pop moves and David Lynch inspired, cinematic lyrics.
≡°≡ Collaborating with the likes of The Band's Garth Hudson, Calexico's Joey Burns and John Covertino, and Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, Neko displays a newfound love of studio artistry on songs like "Dirty Knife," with its dark orchestral sweep, and the Ennio Morricone meets Brenda Lee classicism of "Star Witness." Most notably, Neko has for the first time recorded songs like "Hold On Hold On" that harken back to the classic three–minute pop of The Mamas and the Papas or The Byrds, offering an entry point for a whole new audienceinto the lush, arcane universe of Neko Case.
Mint Records: http://www.mintrecs.com/
By PAUL HANEY; Score: ****½
≡°≡ When it comes to the art of telling tales, Jim Thompson had it pegged. "There are 32 ways to write a story," the noir author famously observed, "but only one plot: Things are not as they seem." The story of Neko Case, similarly, could be told a number of different ways; but the facts, as always, yield only a part of the truth.
≡°≡ There is the basic, by now familiar biographical arc: Case's childhood in Washington State, art school in Vancouver, her early baptism into the world of country and gospel music, and contemporary gigs in distaff punk trios Maow and cub, as well as a longer (and ongoing) stint in powerhouse Canadian pop group the New Pornographers. Since the late '90s, however, the bulk of Case's energies have been devoted to a thriving solo career. Following three critically lauded studio albums, 1997's The Virginian, 2000's Furnace Room Lullaby, and 2002's masterful Blacklisted; a quietly potent kitchen–recorded EP, Canadian Amp; and 2004's brilliantly conceived concert collection The Tigers Have Spoken, Case reemerges with her latest, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.
≡°≡ Two years in the making from conception to completion, the album is a culmination of sorts, the sound of an artist fully coming into her own and producing a career defining statement. Case's work has always hinted at a uniquely skewed gyroscope at the center of the music: her songs at once playful and heartfelt, artsy yet unpretentious, and capable of shelving offbeat imagery inside of classic compositional structures. Significantly, Fox Confessor is further fueled by Neko's refusal to limit her work along generic boundaries. Her role as producer is profoundly felt, as styles, influences and sonic signatures from dozens of musical traditions thread through the new songs, leaving the echo of their passing but combine to create a sound at once foreign and familiar.
≡°≡ Lyrically reflective and self–assessing, the twelve songs on Fox Confessor are cast in a tone that is at once resigned ("Hold On, Hold On") yet far from pessimistic ("Maybe Sparrow"). It's an album where the storytelling offers exacting portraits of the transient and hyper real ("Margaret Vs. Pauline," "Star Witness," "That Teenage Feeling"), while opening windows to the still viable — albeit sadly neglected these days — metaphors, lessons, or cautionary reflections derived through mythological creations ("Fox Confessor Brings The Flood"). Elsewhere, near–forgotten spirituals ("John Saw That Number") emote clear–eyed observations on our common lives.
≡°≡ Aside from the intro to "John Saw That Number" (recorded in the back stairwell of Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern) and "At Last" (tracked at Toronto's Iguana studio), the balance of the album was done at Tucson, Arizona's Wavelab Studio, with engineers Craig Schumacher and Chris Schultz. Produced and mixed by Neko and Darryl Neudorf, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood once again finds her imagistic lyrics and singular voice backed by a cadre of talented collaborators including longtime bandmates Jon Rauhouse and Tom V. Ray, frequent musical foils The Sadies, Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb, vocalist Kelly Hogan, Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino, as well as Canadian cohorts Brian Connelly and Paul Rigby. Former Flat Duo Jet Dexter Romweber and Rachel Flotard of Seattle punk–pop combo Visqueen also guest, as does legendary piano/keyboard/accordion genius Garth Hudson of the Band. However, if Neko has always chosen the best of collaborative friends, what she reveals on the new album is that "the most tender place in my heart is for strangers" — a statement which may or may not have seeds planted in the transient nowhere–is–home years of her childhood.
≡°≡ Having been moved from town to town after arriving in the world toward the end of 1970, she eventually settled in Tacoma, Washington. An only child, by the age of 15 she'd left home and quit school. Neko somehow managed to survive on her own, and soon steeped herself in the re–emerging punk scene that roamed wildly between Olympia and Seattle, working at a series of rock clubs and witnessing firsthand the transformative power of bands like the Screaming Trees, Girl Trouble, and Nirvana.
≡°≡ Although she maintains an affinity for punk music and its off–shoots (having begun her musical career as a drummer for The Del–Logs, The Propanes, and Maow), it was the discovery of an obscure spiritual album by Bessie Smith & Her Gospel Pearls that provided an important paradigm shift for her early on.
|Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (March 7th, 2006)|