My music pick this week is The Tigers Have Spoken by Neko Case. This live record was released between two fantastic studio albums, Blacklisted and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, and seemed a bit of a filler recording at the time. I am not normally terribly fond of live records but she pulls it off with aplomb partly because she accompanies her almost mystical voice with the formidable talents of her frequent collaborators the Sadies. An album that ends with two traditional numbers in addition to other cover songs initially seems disappointing from this team. But the performances they give of songs by such luminaries as Loretta Lynn and Buffy St. Marie prove them to be interpreters of the first order as well.
While this record can’t properly be considered her best, it is an excellent introduction to Neko because it captures the vitality of her live performances and the incredible texture and character of her voice. It is that combination of texture and talent that she shares with the Sadies and that shines through both the covers and the new songs. For all the excellent performances of songs you may recognize, the albums standout is the title track. A bittersweet lament to the killing of a tiger whose chorus intones “they shot that tiger on his chain,” the song slowly haunts you with observations about the relationship between humanity and this animal. Giving us hints of the poetry to come on her excellent studio album that followed, this album shows us a singer in command of her voice over three nights in a club in Toronto and the excellent musicians who join her on stage and songwriter blossoming into her talent.