Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

Neko Case turned up forty years or so too late to be one of the great country voices of the Fifties — hearts break whenever she hits one of those seraphic high notes. The songs on her fourth studio album, though, are vastly weirder than her precursors': You'll find evocative story fragments about profound alienation written in the dense language of contemporary poetry ("the sledge of tectonic fever"); chorusless rambles with one long free-form verse; oblique songs about songs that suggest she's been studying her New Pornographers bandmate Dan Bejar's stuff; and folk-song lines about John the Baptist. But from her luscious, aching croon, and her ensemble's solemn high-mesa twang and groove (the crew includes members of Calexico and the Band's Garth Hudson), you'd never guess she wasn't covering Patsy Cline standards.

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