DISPARATE SOURCES - FROM RUSSIA TO ALABAMA, VIA WASHINGTON - INSPIRE FABLES ON AMBITIOUS ‘FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD’ (ANTI- RECORDS)
FIRST STUDIO ALBUM IN NEARLY FOUR YEARS SET FOR MARCH 7, 2006
“With this album,” Neko Case reflects, “I wanted to try and figure out how fairy tales were born.” But ‘Fox Confessor’ doesn’t dissect the form; it advances it.
“I’ve given up on typical song structure,” says Neko Case, reflecting on the twelve new songs on her ambitious, riveting new album ‘Fox Confessor Brings The Flood” (March 7/Anti- Records). “I want to say what I have to say and then get out.” But a close listen will reveal that Case hasn’t so much given up on the typical verse-chorus-verse construct as transcended it, creating a majestic album that resonates more deeply with each listen.
Case drew inspiration from disparate sources for ‘Fox Confessor.’ The title track, and some of the other characters brought to life on the album, are inspired by some of the Russian folk tales she has loved since childhood. “The stories are very musical,” says Case, of the legends her Ukrainian relatives instilled in her. ”They usually don’t have a moral, and their approach to death isn’t scary, it’s darkly funny. I’ve always been drawn to that.”
Another story that gets a new reading on ‘Fox Confessor’ has its origins not in Ukraine, but Washington state where Case grew up. Case’s grandmother told a tale - true, supposedly - of a house in Washington whose inhabitants all went mad simultaneously, seeing visions, burning their clothes and furniture to keep warm. Case hypothesizes that lead poisoning may have been the culprit, but she gives a less literal interpretation on “Dirty Knife,” a delicate yet jagged song that features foreboding bowed bass and cello accompaniment by Calexico’s Joey Burns.
Still another song on ’Fox Confessor’ has its origins in 1930s rural Alabama. “John Saw That Number” sets the familiar biblical story of John the Baptist to Case’s original music, drawing on lyrics she found in the book ‘Honey in the Rock: The Ruby Pickens Tartt Collection of Religious Folk Songs from Sumter County, Alabama’ (pub. 1939). Case delivers one of her most stunning vocal performances to date here, kicked off by a rapturous a capella intro, which Case recorded in the stairwell of a nightclub in Toronto for maximum acoustic effect.