Neko Case, Crooked Fingers | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Neko Case, Crooked Fingers Recommended Member Picks All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., April 24, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Lots of things are compelling about Neko Case, but none so much as her voice—with its fullness and precision, it’s the force that animates her music. She sounds better than ever on her sixth album, the new Middle Cyclone (Anti-), which she’s filled with artful surprises: she uses her dead-on ear for phrasing to make sudden, perfectly timed melodic leaps, and her songs unfold intuitively rather than, say, simply sticking to the verse for four lines and then moving to the chorus for two. Her lyrics are sharp and creative, elaborating a sort of American southwestern gothic and unpacking her fascination with the fragility and power of nature: in “This Tornado Loves You” she describes a twister in terms befitting a willful, desperate suitor, and in “People Got a Lotta Nerve” she reminds humans that they’re not alone at the top of the food chain. Case also sings about troubled love more directly and personally than she has in the past, at one point coming right out and saying, “The next time you say forever, I will punch you in your face.” Working with regular guitarist Paul Rigby, she’s cooked up a bonanza of inventive, gorgeous arrangements, packed with details—a music box, a bizarre MIDI saxophone solo—that emerge from a literal choir of backing vocals or an orchestra of a half-dozen broke-down pianos. And by next week, I’m sure I’ll have noticed even more. Crooked Fingers open. —Peter Margasak

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