Neko Case will release her third solo album Blacklisted, on August 20th. Recorded at Wavelab in Tucson, Arizona, Case cited the title track as representative of the wistful mood of the disc.
“I was in Iowa City, Iowa when I wrote it,” Case says of the song. “I was feeling pretty sad, and it was before our show so I went for a walk – Iowa City is a very beautiful town – and I found this old train depot that was closed down. I was just kind of looking around and was overwhelmed by the place, and a lot of times when you write songs, they just kind of write themselves. There’ll be a few lines that just repeat themselves in your head and you go from there.”
Having taught herself how to play guitar, Case now writes songs on the instrument and credits penning her own melodies with improving the phrasing of her singing. Recorded with a loose knit collective of musicians and friends that includes Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico and Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Case rendered an album that owes a minimal debt to the modern recording sound.
“We definitely are very conscious of the recording techniques of people like [legendary Nashville producer] Owen Bradley and music made a long time ago, and it was a popular thing to use a lot of reverb then and I think it sounds fucking great. It crosses it up a little. It sounds a little more lonely, more than that, more intimate and distant at the same time.”
Included amongst Case’s originals is a pair of covers. “‘Look For Me (I’ll Be Around)’ was a song that was sung by Ketty Lester and a lot of other people, but Ketty Lester’s was the version that I really was attached to,” she says. “She’s a fantastic singer, and really emotive and has incredible range, but the song is basically about stalking somebody which is so politically incorrect. But at one time maybe it didn’t sound so weird. It’s just very poetically written and very simple, and the melody’s great and I really love the songs and they’re really fun to sing. And [ Elvis Costello’s]’Running Out of Fools’ is a really great, ‘Go fuck yourself’ kind of song.”
Case plans to tour later this summer with her side band, the New Pornographers, with an eye towards recording a follow-up album to their acclaimed debut, 2000’s Mass Romantic, sometime before the end of the year.
“Basically in the New Pornographers, I come in and do my job, and they tell me what to do and I go right on,” says Case. “I make up a lot of my own parts, but basically I trust them completely. The New Pornographers to me are like being a teenager and sitting on your bed and playing air guitar in the mirror and saying, ‘God, I wish I was in a fantasy kick ass rock band.’ And then poof, your fairy godmother hits you with a wand and suddenly you’re in your fantasy kick ass rock band. I just feel super giddy to be in the fantasy kick ass rock band, and it takes a lot of pressure off because I’m not the focal point of the band.”