Neko Case

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Neko Case may be the alt-country heir to Loretta Lynn, but she came up through art-school punk, and the allure of her fourth studio album seems both willful and insouciant. Case brings new surety to her already strong songwriting, and her gorgeous voice, robed in the usual reverb, is fully at home in a dozen tracks of torchy solemnity. Discreetly she unsettles her loping waltzes with frayed-nerve chord changes; leavens the lush, easy twang with cello stabs or melodic spooks; and makes sure the most soaring vocal harmonies are also the most shattering. Such control demands an almost formal geometry, but don’t think the songs are at all short on sensuous, surprising turns. What Case has always done so well is balance the confessional with the confidential, the prettiness with the darkness.