THIS MYSTERIOUS, BEGUILING outrider for Neko Case’s sixth solo studio album has had MOJOers of all stripes and genders swooning, even those (like yours truly) who’ve previously resisted her charms. With a tugging, Dear Prudence-y undertow, and lowing, hardly-there brass, it promises slowburn until bursting alight on the chorus. “You never held it at the right angle,” admonishes Case with that beautiful crystal diction of hers. It’s one of those great pop song pronouncements that has you asking “who?”, “what?” and “where?” and keeps you puzzling to the end of the tune, and beyond, for the rest of the day or – in this case and for this correspondent – week.
Hard on its heels, we’re to expect the album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You on September 2 via ANTI. Featuring collaborations with M Ward, My Morning Jacket and Calexico, and recorded by Tucker Martine in Portland, Oregon, Chris Schultz and Craig Schumacher in Tucson and with Phil Palazzolo in Brooklyn, it follows her critically-lauded (4 stars – MOJO) Billboard Number 3 album from ’09, Middle Cyclone.
The Virginia-born, Tacoma-raised Case describes the album as the product of a period of “grief and mourning”, marked by deaths amongst family and friends.
“My 40s are a lonelier place than I imagined,” she explains in her press release, “but I can look myself in the face and know that it was my choice. So anything that happens to me from here on out is mine. I’m at square one again.
“I fought hard against the feeling of grief all my life,” she continues, “but about three years ago I finally had to give in and mourn the dead. I had to look inward more than I wanted. It was sobering, and I often felt like I was blurring the lines of mental illness. When I stopped fighting it, it took me where I needed to go.”
Night Still Comes – the most delightful reflection you could imagine on the remorselessness of death – shows the way.