Neko Case says she doesn’t write love songs. But on Case’s new record, Middle Cyclone, love presents itself in a way only this pastoral songwriter could express.
In fact, the opening track, “This Tornado Loves You,” ponders the concept of a person-tornado love affair. Case’s crisp, spine-tingling vocals on this homage to weather systems remind us what we have been missing out on for the three years since 2006′s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.
Case’s no-bullshit approach to love is laid out for unworthy suitors in “The Next Time You Say ‘Forever’” and “People Got a Lotta Nerve.”
In “The Next Time…,” Case whispers, “The next time you say forever, I will punch you in your face.” “People…” compares Case to wild animals who aren’t taken seriously. She declares, “You know I’m a man, man, man, man, man, man-eater / But still you’re surprised, ‘prised, ‘prised when I eat ya.”
The dark “Polar Nettles” and “The Pharaohs” as well as the obsessive “Vengeance is Sleeping” could have been on Case’s gothic, melancholic Blacklisted.
The naturalist in Case powers in with “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth,” (a Sparks cover) and “I’m An Animal.” These are the most forceful tracks on the album. They are love songs too, in some sense. “Never Turn…” is Case’s plea for us to, well, love our natural Mother while “I’m an Animal” is a call to love the animals inside us.
Case writes in the title track, “I can’t give up actin’ tough, it’s all that I’m made of / Can’t scrape together quite enough, to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love.” While she admits her songs are just stories, this eerie song seems like a momentary glimpse into the bucolic mind of Neko Case.
In a recent interview, Case refined her earlier statement that she can’t write love songs. She said that every song is essentially a love song because she can’t write something she feels “middle-of-the-road about.” Every time Case writes a song, puts on a show, or releases a record, there’s nothing “middle” about it.
Here’s a great mini-documentary released by Neko Case’s label, Anti- Records, about the making of Middle Cyclone.
~ Mike Estabrook