Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Neko Case "Thrice All American"

I got a big kick out of this Neko Case/Kelly Hogan goof on Sci-Fi and Fanboys and such.

And because I was sitting at the kitchen table on a late afternoon, I decided to go to the basement and pull out some of my older Neko Case records, like "Furnace Room Lullaby."

It's been a while since I'd gone back to the Neko Case of the 90s.  The think that struck me was that on top of loving the record as much as ever, I just couldn't get over how little-of-a-clue that record offered, as to what Neko Case would sound like in 2014.

I mean, the voice is still there.  The mystery.  The confidence.  The sly humor amid the darkness.

I guess I'm mostly talking about the country references, which are pretty much gone without a trace now.

In the late 90s, Neko Case seemed like she was going to be an enigmatic Patsy Cline for the modern age, crafting timeless, country-tinged dark ruminations.

And while the music of 2014 still feels timeless and dark, there is a complete absence of twang.

The strangest part about it is that it happened slowly and quietly, subtly.  I mean, there's still a bit of twang in Case's voice in current songs like "City Swans."  Just not in the instrumentation.

I was trying to think of another artist who so quietly, easily slipped out of country, without calling attention to it---so much so that you kinda forgot that's where they came from.

Wilco came to mind at first.  But I do recall an interview with Jeff Tweedy, pre-"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," where he was contemplating a future "zero Country reference" record.

Maybe Joe Henry?  He was alt-country before alt-country was alt-country.  Now he makes records as timeless and dark and somewhat-uncategorizable as Case.

Anyway, just an observation.  It's nice to still be surprised by an artist.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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