Austin City Limits Festival
September 17, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
Neko Case was the bubbly vocal presence behind the two records from Canadian indie-rock supergroup The New Pornographers. Her powerful, cutting, crystalline voice added the candy coating to the bandís happy and enthusiastic music.
So, I was happily surprised when I found Neko Case the solo artist played good music of a completely different sort. She performed beautiful downtrodden and creep(y)ing country tunes at the Austin City Limits Festival Friday afternoon. No drums. Just her guitar, a stand-up bassist, and a pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitarist. To wallow and be haunted. If you need more proof of the musicís loneliness, she opened for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds in 2002.
Her voice was the musicís main asset. Still, the songs were well-crafted and effective. Back to her voice(what a segueway!). On her recent third album, Case began writing her own songs, but God knows she didnít need to. Her voice was heavenly, out of this world, something to guide you through the night. She could easily make a living singing other peopleís songs for the rest of her life.
And, talk about feeling low! Her voice on top of the yearning tones of a pedal steel was enough to break my heart. This is the kind of music you listen to when youíre ruffling through old love letters.
I loved that she stood her ground and belted out one sad song after another. She gave balance to the set with her bubbly, congenial nature, though.