To call Neko Case a force of nature is hardly a cliché; the singer-songwriter knows a few things about where the wild things are. The lyrics of her sometimes spare, sometimes shimmering folk songs use killer whales, untamable tigers and mystical foxes to embody her desires — whether carnal, carnivorous or otherwise. But she's not afraid to let less sentient entities tell her tales. Take "This Tornado Loves You," the opening cut from this year's Middle Cyclone. Here, the titular tornado upends trailer parks and slashes power lines in search of a lost love. Case matches the twister's righteous quest with full-force vocals of her own, but it's her tenderness — laid bare with lines such as, "I miss how you'd sigh yourself to sleep" — that remind listeners of Case's perpetual push-pull with her wild animal urges and her weary human heart.
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