Mar 13, 2009

Middle Cyclone-Neko Case

This album glows. It is warm and rich and delicious and beautiful. It burns with the strength of a million fireflies. It nourishes and replenishes. It offers solace and comfort. It is a complete joy. Put simply, "Middle Cyclone" has put its hand up for Album of the Year. Oh, Neko you have me and everyone else who falls under your spell at your mercy.

This is quite possibly Neko Case's finest work to date. It is a rich and rewarding piece of music, mature and subtle. Warm and engaging. It's a unique blend of country, rock and pop. Featuring the finest voice that this or any other generation is ever likely to hear. Of course, the pipes are magnificent, but this recording features lush melodies and poignant lyrics as well. It's a hymn to love and to mother earth, an ode to all things natural and beautiful. "This Tornado Loves You" starts things off beautifully. It's a melodious, flowing tune full of humour and hubris. It also features a collective backing group, which includes Joey Burns on cellos and Carl Newman on vocals. It is certainly a feature of the album that Neko uses so many talented people. Not only the aforementioned but also M. Ward, Kelly Hogan, Garth Hudson and Howie Gelb, amongst many others. "The Next Time You Say Forever" follows with lush results, before we hit "People Got A Lotta Nerve", which is catchy as hell and will stay trapped in your memory for days after hearing it. So, you can gather by this that this album has a lot of highs. But two songs stand out in particular. First, the sultry and seductive "Polar Nettles" which is quite outstanding. Then the title track, surely one of THE songs of 2009. Immensely beautiful and deeply moving, the phrasing is near perfect and it stretches a wonderful melody to end point. Feauring a delightful music box, it amply displays the glorious vessel that is the voice of Neko. In the days of auto-tune and people who truly can't sing, it is galvanising to hear a voice so soaring, so majestic, so natural. So transcendent.

But this album is not just a vehicle of voice. As said, there are many songs that contain effortless melody and harmony. Songs about the love of life, the life of nature, the texture of living. All couched in a manner designed to please. The mixture is quite good too. For every wondrous ballad like "Vengeance Is Sleeping" we have a up tempo song like "I'm An Animal". This is exquisite music. It is true and honest. It is shorn of all artifice. It is considered and timely. It is produced with care and attention. It is for you.


  • At March 16, 2009 , Anonymous T said...

    Great review. I agree that this is one of the best albums so far this year. So many great songs; it's difficult to choose but my favorites are Prison Girls and Polar Nettles & my only gripe is the excessive 32 minute chirp closer Marais la Nuit, -good for sleeping too but that's all, imo.


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