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Neko Case lets loose at the Lincoln Theatre

October 31, 2013

9333_400x400Neko Case has long had one of the best voices in pop music, but it wasn’t until this year’s album with the unwieldy title, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, that she had written songs as deep and complicated as that voice. She emphasized those songs in her triumphant show at the Lincoln Theatre Wednesday night.

Continually pushing a bushy mane of red hair out of her face, Case began the show with “Where Did I Leave that Fire” from the new disc. The sonar beeps that introduce the tune suggest she has fallen so deep in the ocean of sadness that she has lost her fire. Where might she find it? She would spend the rest of the show trying to answer that question.

On the twangy rocker “Bracing for Sunday,” she looked back on her younger days as “a Friday night girl” from the vantage point of someone who has collided with Sunday morning. Over the buoyant waves of melody on “City Swans,” she described that collision with reality as the day “I realized I’d been sailing so long I’d become the shore.” On the rock-noir ballad, “Night Still Comes,” she acknowledged that there are no walls, no drugs that “will keep night from coming.”

Though Case’s vocals and the songwriting were the center of the show, she got terrific support from a band that featured the multi-instrumental wizard Jon Rauhouse on guitar, pedal steel, banjo, and trombone, and backing vocalist Kelly Hogan, one of the few women in American music who might be a better singer than Case.

Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy opened the evening with an underwhelming set, even though the quintet included two former members of the formidable Drive-By Truckers: Tucker and guitarist John Neff. Tucker has proven herself a competent tunesmith with the Truckers and on her new solo debut, but she lacks a strong, distinctive voice, a problem worsened by the Lincoln Theatre’s tendency to allow echoing drums to swallow up vocals.

  • Dean

    I am convinced that Mr. Himes has not even listened to Shonna’s new album. Her voice on her new album has been referred to as”smooth as butter on a biscuit” by Twang Nation.