The Tigers Have Spoken
It’s arguable whether Neko Case should be putting out a live album this close to the beginning of her career, but there’s no denying her power as a born performer. Case has been splitting her time these past couple of years between the power-pop supergroup New Pornographers and her Southern-via-Canadian solo gothic musings, both of which have given her voice a range most traditional country singers lack. The Tigers Have Spoken sees Case enlisting her usual backing band, The Sadies, for a trip through country-rock’s heyday.
The album is cobbled together from three different shows, and the flow and sound quality are nearly flawless, though the decision to cut out the stage banter from the gregarious Case is unfortunate. Case’s voice is in top form throughout, recalling Kristin Hersh in her Throwing Muses days. Oddly enough, there are only four originals here, two of which have seen a studio treatment (“Blacklisted” and “Favorite”). The remaining two are thoroughly excellent. The title track, a Velvets-inspired hazy reverb/delay drenched ode to a shellshocked tiger, has the biggest potential of becoming a classic.
Elsewhere, Case touches on her contemporaries (Catherine Irwin’s “Hex”), Nashville gems (J. Barry’s “Train From Kansas City” and Loretta Lynn’s “Rated X”) and gospel Americana (“This Little Light” and “Wayfaring Stranger”). There’re isn’t much in the realms of country music that is beyond her and her band’s reach. By chance, if she attempts another live album in her future, I’ll be looking forward to hearing more self-penned material. But no one should be complaining in the least about what’s offered up here.