On the front of her new album, Blacklisted (Bloodshot), Neko Case is pictured lying under her van, which is crammed with her belongings--a chest of drawers, a mattress, paintings. In real life Case has loaded up her van quite often over the years, logging time in Vancouver and Seattle before Chicago, and the songs here suggest that her spirit, at least, is still wandering: she celebrates various states of exile on "Outro With Bees" ("So it's better my sweet / That we hover like bees / 'Cause there's no sure footing / No love I believe") and "I Wish I Was the Moon" ("God blessed me, I'm a free man / With no place free to go"). And of course the travelin' woman's got no time for petty romance: Case has said that the two covers on the album--the Aretha Franklin kiss-off "Runnin' Out of Fools" and Ketty Lester's stalker torch song "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)"--were included because the album needed some "love songs." Musically she's a rambler as well, roaming from blue-eyed soul to vintage twang and settling down for a spell in an old-timey drone--though a noirish cast remains a constant throughout. She made the album in Tucson with a broad array of collaborators, including Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, pedal steel ace Jon Rauhouse, and the Sadies' Dallas Good, who lays down spaghetti-western guitar licks on "Deep Red Bells." But the singer's always the star of this show, able to express defiance and vulnerability in a single bent note. Like Wilco before her, she's from, but not of, the alt-country ghetto. John Doe and Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops open. Friday, October 25, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Anderson.