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Neko Case: Live from Austin, Texas

Neko Case: Live from Austin, Texas

Label:New West
Release Date:2007

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 2/7/2007

Over the decade she's been making albums, Neko Case's songwriting has become more self-conscious and elusive, a tendency that climaxed with last year's nearly opaque Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Yet she's hard to resist, in large part because as ambitious as she is, she doesn't limit herself to the serious stuff. Her collaborations with Carolyn Mark as the Corn Sisters and her vocal contributions to three New Pornographers albums demonstrate that she's in it for the fun as well as the art. And she clearly enjoys performing: It doesn't seem like a coincidence that this is her second live album in less than two and a half years.

This audio document of Case's August 2003 appearance on the Austin City Limits TV series--a DVD is also available--isn't as loose as 2004's The Tigers Have Spoken, with which it shares three songs. Leaving aside her collaborative work--which would fit awkwardly, anyway--Austin, Texas covers her entire career. (There's even a preview of "Maybe Sparrow," three years before it ended up on Fox Confessor.) And what it proves is that while Case is sometimes a great writer--"Deep Red Bells" might be the most potent thing she's recorded, both swathed in reverb on 2002's Blacklisted and stripped down here--she's an even better interpreter. About half of this live set's material is by other people, and Case nails it all: Ketty Lester's "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)," Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain," Lisa Marr's "In California," and Freakwater's "Hex." Where's that all-covers album, anyway?

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