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The Tigers Have Spoken

Neko Case
The Tigers Have Spoken

If you ever get the chance to go see Neko Case perform live, you should really do it. Even though I don't live in a town that's exactly renouned as a major stop for excellent artists, we ocassionally get some good shows and I remember seeing Case like it was just last week (when it was in fact well over a year ago). I would actually venture to say that anyone at the show would remember it well, because it was one of those shows in which the crowd and artist seemed to be in harmony, and the crowd fed off the artist and then the artist fed off the crowd and then that circle continued throughout the night.

That night, Case was accompanied by only Jon Rauhouse (on pedal steel and banjo) and Sean Dean (upright bass and tambourine). At first, I was dissapointed because I thought that without a full band, the full range of dynamics wouldn't be covered as well. Little did I know that those three musicians would win me over (and just about everyone else in the place) with a stripped-down performance that ran almost two hours and the entire catalogue of songs that the trio knew (although they did try a couple things at the end they didn't know so well and pulled them off pretty well).

The story above relates to The Tigers Have Spoken in that this newest release from Case is actually a collection of twelve live songs. Mainly newer songs and covers, there's very little on this release that can be found on her earlier studio albums, and while all the songs are nicely performed and recorded, they simply don't capture the amazing qualities of Case and her band. In fact, my above statement of dissapointment (in originally seeing that there were only three people performing) could probably be applied to this release even moreso. While it's nice to hear tracks fleshed-out a little more, there was something about the sparseness of the performance that I saw (as well as the more sparse qualities of Case's last recordings) that aren't quite matched on The Tigers Have Spoken.

If you're a fan of Case, you'll most definitely want to pick this up (it's still amazing in places), but it's really no substitute for the real thing. The covers of Loretta Lynn and Buffy Sainte-Marie are well worth having, though, and after a long wait since Blacklisted, this is a nice thing to tide one over until her next full-length studio disc comes out early next year.

Rating: 7