The Tigers Have Spoken

The fourth album by alt-country singer/songwriter Neko Case is also her first live album. A brief collection of tunes--clocking in under 33 minutes of music--The Tigers Have Spoken is nonetheless a fun album and a showcase for some fine talent with the extra punch that only a live audience can give. Case has said that "When we play, people always come up and say, 'Are you going to do some upbeat stuff? Are you ever going to bring a drummer?' This record's sort of for them."

Two of the album's 11 songs are new versions of old Neko Case songs: "Blacklisted" is the title cut from Case's 2002 album, and "Favorite" was originally from the hard-to-get EP Canadian Amp from 2001. Two other songs, "If You Knew" and the CD's title song are new originals Case co-wrote with the band The Sadies, who back Case on the album and many times in the past.

The rest are covers, and some interesting choices. Case sings a spirited and faithful version of the 1973 Loretta Lynn treatise on gender roles, "Rated X." She also does a strong take on "Soulful Shade of Blue," a song by one of Case's heroes, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Case named her first dog Buffy after the singer at the age of five, so the ongoing tribute continues with this inclusion.

The album's longest song, at an epic-length almost 5 minutes, is a cover of a song by Catherine Ann Irwin, one of the singer/songwriters of the Louisville alt-country band Freakwater. The song, "Hex," features some gorgeous vocal harmonies.

Case also selected The Shangri-La's hit "The Train from Kansas City." And perhaps most unexpectedly is "Loretta," a gritty 1980 number by the not very well known Boston pop-rock band Nervous Eaters.

Rounding out the album, and functioning as encores, are the traditional songs "Wayfaring Stranger" and the terrific and energetic "This Little Light."

Very talented musicianship recorded in the raw, as it were, and the interesting song chosen for its setlist make The Tigers Have Spoken one of the better live albums in recent memory.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director