Neko Case is a breath of fresh air, and she always has been. Few artists traverse the line of folk-country and alternative-rock as boldly or creatively as Case. At her most emotional, she is Regina Spektor with a guitar. At her most energetic, she is Alanis Morissette with an infinitely better songwriting ability. And with a voice this singular, Case should never be a musician you let slip between the cracks.
Her lengthily titled release, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, is chock-full of sharp lyrics and simple, yet ingenious musicality. Cover to cover, Case flexes her dynamic songwriting muscles. From the beautiful piano/guitar ballad “Afraid” and the powerful pop of “Man” to the soulful and emotional “Night Still Comes,” the album spans the gamut of Case’s potential as a songwriter, and she pulls it off dynamically.
Her songs are full of passionate frustrations and humorous asides about being a woman in a man’s world, about losing those closest to you and about her struggles in her romantic endeavors. In so many ways, The Worse Things Get is an intimate album, and because of the mature and well-humored way its songs are written, listeners can’t help but thank Case for allowing us a glimpse at such personal details from her life.
Case’s new release is one of her best and will definitely be showcased live this October when she closes out the Austin Ventures Stage on Sunday of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Pick up this album, listen to it front to back, absorb every meditation, every piece of advice, every light-hearted critique it has to offer you and then play it again. It’s that good.