Not many songwriters are able to juxtapose Sunday-school hymns with a modest proposal that involves feeding unruly children to jungle cats. Neko Case, however, pulls it off beautifully. The Tigers Have Spoken
, her third full-length, seesaws from country psalms to indie sass as it channels all the rapturous hoot-and-holler of Americana. Culled from a tour last spring, the disc tackles tent-revival staples like "This Little Light" and the Appalachian chestnut "Wayfaring Stranger" -- last heard in these parts on 16 Horsepower's Secret South
. But Case also offers the secular cynicism of Loretta Lynn's "Rated X," as well as gorgeous, twangy renditions of tunes by the Shangri-Las and fellow Canadian chanteuse Buffy Sainte-Marie. Besides sporting playful banter and a clutch of new, if typical, originals, Tigers
really shines by potently distilling the soulful exuberance of Case's live shows. Technical glitches and abrupt stop/starts aside, she wows with both tasteful virtuosity and heel-kicking abandon -- not to mention her knack for whipping audiences into sing-along frenzies. Tigers
may be a far cry from either canticle or choir, but its spirits are definitely moving.