Blacklisted

A natural torch singer gifted with a big, gorgeous instrument that twangs like Patsy Cline and croons like Loretta Lynn, Neko Case continues to refine her mix of alternative-country music and film-noir sensibility on Blacklisted. On tracks such as the shimmering "Tightly" and the plangent "Deep Red Bells," Case puts her voice front and center, burying her roots ever deeper in the rich soil of American C&W. She's also sounding more idiosyncratic and more melancholy: Case claims that she is "hunted by American dreams" on "Things That Scare Me." And though her music suggests a more than casual acquaintance with loss, she admonishes, "Don't you try and stop me/I cling tightly to this life." Such passion serves Case well, allowing her to create truly hellbent music.

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