Neko Case’s life was hovering across the expanse of continental North America well before it was part of her job as one of today’s biggest-selling independent-label artists. The soul stirring singer/songwriter/journeywoman — whose Middle Cyclone entered Billboard’s album chart at No. 3 in 2009, pushing Case’s profile (and commercial bankability) to peak levels — was born in Virginia but moved to Washington State as a young child. Case crossed the border and attended college in Canada, immersing herself in the Vancouver music scene. After school and recording an album with some local musicians (the equally acclaimed and in-peak-form New Pornographers), she moved back to the Pacific Northwest, launched her solo career and, with 2000’s breakthrough Furnace Room Lullabies, left Seattle for Chicago. She moved to Tucson next, drawn by the warmth and calm it provided during her limited time not traveling. Today, as of press time, she calls Vermont home.
That untethered existence might sound flighty and carefree, but as anyone who has seen her live can especially attest, Case couldn’t be any more “down to earth” and her confidence and command is the force behind her heart-rattling, soul-tingling sound. With a base coat of traditional Country and raw sophistication, she crafts something that is natural and direct in its ability to connect with and move the listener. But becoming a serious fan of Case’s music is an experience that combines the disorienting buzz of hypnosis with the heart-surge of falling in love. In concert, Case’s oceanic vocals are so gripping, people stop playing with their phones. OK, not everyone — she’s not Jesus — but Case is pretty hard to ignore when she’s working that hard-to-define magic in the same room as you.
Case also seems to randomly pop up out of thin air — she’s been to Cincinnati twice since Middle Cyclone, but once was with her Three Legs project with Jacob Dylan and Kelly Hogan, and once was with The New Pornographers. There’s been no whiff of a new album and Case has spent much of the summer touring, blowing minds with My Morning Jacket and others (she joins The National at the Hollywood Bowl for a gig next month), so her Cincinnati tour stop might be a rarity. Or she might be back in two weeks for a five-night club stand and her new double album just now showed up on iTunes. Either way, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
NEKO CASE plays Riverbend's PNC Pavilion Wednesday, Aug. 17 with guests MY MORNING JACKET. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.