The bipolarity of Chicago alt-chanteuse Neko Case can be seen in her choice of tourmates; in one corner, iconic C 'n' W legends like Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, and Charlie Louvin, and in the other, such fashionable indie-juggernauts as Matt Pond PA and Case's sometimes-supergroup, the New Pornographers.
Maybe it wouldn't have been true before last year's elegant Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but Case has finally blossomed into an artist who has earned consideration as a classic, leaving behind a posse of hipsters and their snap-button cowboy shirts. With Fox Confessor, Case's abilities as a songwriter are every bit as winsome as her honey-drip alto. And by setting aside retread tales of woebegone love for the more exotic reaches of the imagination (jungle cats and junked cars, flaming specters and martyred saints), she found herself rightfully atop many year-end lists. It's as if we might learn from the one-liner in "Hold On, Hold On," where Case sings, "I leave the party at three a.m. -- alone, thank God." These days, Case has better things to do than make the scene, thank God.