Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Long title, powerful artistry

Neko Case brings life to new album

  • Print

NEW YORK -- In her musical life, Neko Case doesn't like to work alone.

For more than a decade, the singer has maintained a dual-track career that thrives on teamwork as it taxes her organizational skills. She leads a band of her own, including vocal partner Kelly Hogan, and has a new disc out this week. She also tours and records as a member of Carl Newman's pop collective, the New Pornographers.

Her new album, with the mouthful title The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, continues a progression beyond the alt-country sound of her early career into something deeper and more eclectic.

Case sounds like she's paying tribute to a longtime lover on one of her new songs, Calling Cards, when she sings: "Every dial tone, every truck stop, every heartbreak, I love you more."

Case says she's singing to her band.

"I know there are people who are really good at performing solo," she said. "Me, I just feel lonely. I hate it. I don't like to practise alone, either. It's about community for me. I think it's about not having a family as a kid. I just spent a lot of time being really, really, really alone. I just don't want to do that anymore."

After a troubled childhood, Case left home at age 15. That's usually a recipe for disaster, but Case is eternally grateful for the rockers and drag queens of Tacoma, Wash., who looked after a girl hanging out in places she shouldn't.

"It's another reason I get so upset at the idea that the gay community is some disgusting underbelly," she said. "What? I would have died without a strong gay community, and I'm not even gay. I don't know what I would have done without those guys."

Case, 42, and her powerful pipes were already attracting attention when she met Hogan in New York in the late 1990s. Hogan was an aspiring singer herself, working part-time at a record company, and the two hit it off. They're a powerful force working in tandem, their reverb-drenched voices soaring as if they could fill a cathedral with sound.

At the time, Case covered up her shyness with aggressive and obnoxious behaviour. Hogan smoothed out the edges.

"I would watch how she would handle a situation with such eloquence and still say what she wanted to say," Case said. "I was so moved that she wanted to hang out with a kid like me. She didn't know it at the time, but I really appreciated her grace."

Hogan said Case taught her to be more assertive, "and I taught her to maybe not say the first thing that comes to your mind. Maybe say the third thing. I learned just as much from her about sticking up for myself."

Both women appreciate their comfortable musical fit.

"I learn from her all the time," Hogan said. "She's my idol. She's totally brass balls. She's one of the bravest people I know as far as running her own freak flag up the flagpole. Every time she makes a new record, the flag gets bigger with more freaky things on it. It's more compelling."

That's an apt description of the new disc, her first in four years and the followup to her bestselling album. There's more power to the music and more experimentation.

Case worked through depression the past few years, with deaths of people close to her and a broken relationship. She took some time off the professional treadmill to sort through things emotionally.

"I don't want to sound like it was some incredible transformative experience," she said. "It was that, but every single person goes through the same thing. It was my time to do it."


-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2013 B4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google