Album of the month March 2009

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Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

Ms Case had a lot to live up to after the magnificent Fox Confessors Brings the Flood. Expectations were extremely high – even after the questionable artwork had leaked. Rest assured Middle Cyclone is a worthy follow up and a noble progression. One thing is for certain she has never sounded so good, her voice having developed into a force of cyclonic power itself.

Aided along the way by such talents as M Ward, Sarah Harmer, her fellow New Pornographers and more she fortunately avoided the too many cooks syndrome and made a strong, amiable confidant album. The two more instantly likable songs are cover versions which indicates that Neko is not a writer of straight forward songs. That is no weakness though as a pop singer she is not.

She clearly enjoyed making this album and it very much sounds a labour of love. On the first couple of listens it put me in mind of Astral Weeks for reasons I am not entirely sure of – perhaps it’s her meandering melody lines. With only two songs reaching over the 3 minute 20 second mark and many hovering at 2 minutes it certainly hasn’t the epic nature of Astral Weeks.

Her songs tend to age well and this album is one that will be pleasurable listening for a very long time to come. It may miss some of the melodic strength that Fox Confessor had but somehow it’s of no great loss to this great collection of songs.

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