Neko Case

The Tigers Have Spoken (Anti)

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.

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