Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone

If you had ever questioned whether you would pickup Neko Case’s latest album, Middle Cyclone, you can listen to the entire thing on the National Public Radio website. NPR has does America a great service by sharing this and shedding light on another great contribution to the often-regrettable cannon of recent Country Music.

I’ve long thought Neko Case might be too uncompromising for mainstream success. Her humorous and vociferous interview with Pitchfork found her in a mood to burn bridges while taking shots at Celine Dion, Shania Twain and much of the recording industry. That’s all well and good, but her last album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, seemed to veer into an extreme seriousness that sapped some of the fun out of the music.

Middle Cyclone feels more relaxed than Fox Confessor, returning to the dark beauty of Blacklisted, probably her best album. Love is a theme on Middle Cyclone, but it reaches well beyond individual, romantic love, into the realm of spiritual and elemental longing, out-of-reach but not intangible. Case’s music is still serious and uncompromising, but she brings to it the kind of infatuating gentleness that makes boys fall in love with girls they know they’ll never get.