#7 – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – Neko Case
2006 was a strong year, placing four titles in this top ten list. Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood placed fourth at the time and the seven years since have seen it rise up a notch.
More than any record on this list, Fox Confessor typifies the idea of an album as a unified statement, not just a collection of songs.
Now here’s a song that I’d never heard before discovering it through this cover version. ‘Don’t Forget Me’ was originally written and recorded by Harry Nilsson for his 1974 album Pussy Cats.
That album was produced by John Lennon and features a wild cover of Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ as well as gentler fare like this. Apparently Nilsson and Lennon’s hard partying carried over into the studio and resulted in a wild, half-genius, half-WTF album.
Nilsson even ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions but kept it to himself, and you can hear his voice getting progressively more harsh through the record.
Top Ten Female Vocalists – #3 – Neko Case
As I pointed out last week, four of the ten women on my list of favorite vocalists have ties to the country genre (here’s number three). And I was a fan of three of them even before my Brad Paisley-inspired entrance into country music fandom.
I suspect that’s more than a coincidence… I surmised earlier that country music tends to leave a little more room, sonically, for vocals. But maybe there’s a directness and emotional honesty in those songs that makes the voices more appealing.
Best Songs of 2009 – #4
Like Lily Allen, Neko Case had a tough act to follow in 2009. 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a rich masterwork and one of my favorite albums of recent years.
Last year she put out Middle Cyclone, another fine showcase of her songwriting and vocal talents that works well as an album but doesn’t boast as many “song songs” as Fox Confessor.
In recent posts about Shakira and Christina Aguilera I decried the use of overt sexuality to sell the music of women whose talent stretches far beyond their looks.
I stand by those sentiments but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m generally prudish when it comes to things like this. I believe sexuality plays a big role in entertainment and particularly in music. The reason rock-and-roll was considered dangerous by older generations all those decades ago is because that music was about sex, maybe more than it was about anything else.
‘Star Witness’ was the first song that really hit me on Neko Case’s wonderful Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. As the second track, it sets the tone early on for what’s to come — it’s my favorite song on one of my favorite albums.
Because my kids have chosen to listen to this CD on the way to school for more than a year now (with some Rihanna, Duffy and M.I.A. sprinkled in), I have heard this song probably more than 100 times, give or take. And yet I’ve never tired of it. Even now, tracking it down on YouTube for this Song of the Day post, I’ve listened to it all the way through more than once.
I’ve started writing this review in my head about ten times already but I’ve always stopped short of typing it out because it’s never felt quite right.
At one point I had what I thought was a pretty clever opening in mind: You know how they say “so-and-so’s voice is so good I’d listen to her sing the phone book?” Well, Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone is the closest I’ve come to testing that theory.
That was after I’d first gotten the album and I just didn’t get half of it. I was searching for melodies and choruses without much luck, left admiring the gorgeous vocals of the gorgeous Case but not really feeling the songs.