Neko Case possesses a voice that cuts the air like a laser beam. It doesn’t seem to surround you so much as shoot straight through you. On Wednesday night (Oct. 23), the veteran singer-songwriter turned her energies on Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom.
Focused largely on her new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, Case was bouncing back from what was reported as a tense show the night before in Cincinnati.
The self-described “nerdy chick” and former New Pornographer looked at ease onstage and kept the crowd on her side.
“I love you so much, Neko!” called a young lady in the audience.
“I am going to hug you so hard after the show,” Case replied warmly. “You don’t know how much I needed that.”
She might be nerdy, maybe even a little shy, but Case’s eccentricities make for intriguing songwriting.
With her new album, she remains a beacon in the indie-rock corner of Americana. Her songs rarely follow standard structures. Rather, she tailors each one to fit the image she’s describing, which is always unusual and vivid.
At the Cannery, the animal lover defended a killer whale that just might drag someone to the bottom of its tank in “People Got a Lot of Nerve.”
For “This Tornado Loves You,” she described a love-sick cyclone that can’t help destroying everything it touches.
And in “Man,” the first single from the new album, Case put herself in the shoes of the opposite sex — without much sympathy for us fellas.
Other standouts from the new album included “Calling Cards,” “Night Still Comes” and “Wild Creatures.”
Throughout her set, she was backed expertly by singer Kelly Hogan, who provided echo, unison and harmony vocals, while her band shifted between folksy steel guitar wafting and jagged electric guitar riffs.
Despite her towering voice and unruly shock of blood red hair, Case ended the night favoring substance over style. She made it pretty clear that her songs are plenty flamboyant enough.