Neko Case 

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

It's a testament to alt.country darling Case's ambition that her fourth studio release puts aside standard tales of woebegone love for the more exotic reaches of the imagination: jungle cats and junked cars, flaming specters and martyred saints. It's as if we should learn from the one-liner I leave the party at three a.m., alone, thank God (from "Hold On, Hold On") that Case the Songwriter has grown older and wiser, a fact underscored by Case the Bandleader's enlistment of Giant Sand's Howe Gelb and the Band's Garth Hudson to flesh out these tracks. And while Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a bit front-loaded, it seldom lags; when some of the verse seems lifted from a teenage diary (Driving home I see those flooded fields/How can people not know what beauty this is? begins the meandering title track), Case's reverb-soaked wail swoops in to save the day. It's a voice that has always haunted us, so it's a good thing the songs themselves are now haunting as well.

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