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Neko Case & Kelly Willis

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  • Carl Zimring
    Since I did a couple of new-release reviews for WRCT this weekend, I thoughy I d share them here. I spent much of the weekend listening to the new discs from
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2002
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      Since I did a couple of new-release reviews for WRCT this weekend, I
      thoughy I'd share them here. I spent much of the weekend listening to the
      new discs from Neko Case and Kelly Willis, and I'd imagine fans of both
      artists are going to enjoy them both. Case's _Blacklisted_ is subtler and
      more subdued than the last two Boyfriends albums, in part due to Giant Sand
      & company's relatively atmospheric backing and in part due to the influence
      of Kelly Hogan on her singing. (In that way, it followes the _Canadian
      Amp_ ep, though this album is more polished and consistent than the ep, if
      yer worried about such things. Those who want the punky uptempo Neko of
      "Guided by Wire" and "Bowling Green" may be in for a disappointment, but
      there's plenty of gorgeous singing and playing to go around. (Also plenty
      of reverb, as usual. She should tour with My Morning Jacket.) I'm tempted
      to play the banjo-driven "Things That Scare Me" back-to-back with
      Clodhopper's "1000 Days of Shame" on tomorrow's show.

      Kelly Willis's _Easy_ recalls _What I Deserve_ in style and tone. An
      all-star platoon of musicians (Chuck Prophet, Ian McLagan, Mark Spencer,
      Lloyd Maines, a large chunk of the under-50 _O Brother_ folks) help her
      create radio-friendly semi-acoustic twang & I could see this album really
      taking off at AAA radio if programmers aren't too bothered by twang. Willis
      remains one of America's best vocal interpreters -- her take on Kirsty
      MacColl's "Don't Come the Cowboy With Me Sunny Jim is a worthy update, and
      I'd like to hear her do an entire album of Paul Kelly covers, even if her
      version of "You Can't Take It With You" isn't what I would do with the
      song. She bluegrasses it up with Chris Thile's mandolin and backing vocals
      by Vince Gill and Dan Tyminski; I hear the song as begging for a
      Bakersfield-style backing anchored by a Telecaster. (Paging Dwight
      Yoakam!) I may play both Kellys' versions tomorrow as kind of a Pepsi
      Challenge, and I expect both _Easy_ and _Blacklisted_ will get a fair chunk
      of airtime on my show over the next couple of months.

      Carl Z.
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