Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
The right mix of high-octane reds and deep-water blues
Neko Case's 1998 debut The Virginian established her as a budding alt-country star, but since then, she's been broadening her horizons. Her subsequent solo records have drifted toward torch-singer territory, while her work with the New Pornographers is unadulterated indie-pop. On Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, all of those elements coalesce to create the most consistent and rewarding album of her career. Case's primary strength is still her voice, but whereas in the past she's often used it to over-dramatize, on Fox Confessor she strikes just the right balance between the high-octane reds and the deep-water blues. The resulting tones and textures, along with a reliance on richly romantic melodicism, make for music that's more pointedly pop than she's sounded in the past, but not so much as to be ordinary. There's still plenty of personality in Case's smoky and sultry voice, as well as in her often eccentric lyrical perspective. Those qualities are especially evident on the opening and closing tracks ("Margaret vs. Pauline" and "The Needle Has Landed"); but her emotions run deepest on the nostalgic ode "That Teenage Feeling" and the heartbreaking (if brief) ballad "At Last."