Neko Case touring behind new career retrospective release

She’ll bring a treasure trove of fan favorites to Variety Playhouse Sept. 13.

The second leg of Neko Case’s tour in support of solo career-to-date retrospective “Wild Creatures” is agreeing with her. “It’s going great!” she enthuses, on a call hours before a soundcheck in Indianapolis. “We’re adding more songs, I love that part.”

The tour arrives in Atlanta on Sept. 13 for her performance at Variety Playhouse, with Sean Rowe set to open. (Some Case/Atlanta trivia: her cousin is Scott Case, for eleven seasons in the 80′s and 90′s a standout defensive back for the Falcons.)

Case released her first album, “The Virginian,” in 1997. That kicked off a professional musical journey that’s included seven critically acclaimed and deeply loved solo records plus membership in two top-notch bands, Canadian indie rock dynamos the New Pornographers and rootsy trio case/lang/veirs (with k.d. lang and Laura Veirs).

She’s a singer/songwriter who consistently blows away listeners equally with the power of her voice and the beauty of her writing (not to mention her guitar playing). From the thunderous chorus on 2002′s tempo-shifting “Deep Red Bells” to the saxophone-ornamented ballad “Halls of Sarah” from 2018′s “Hell-On,” Case delivers songs and moments that stand the test of time. Such is the strength of her discography that selecting twenty-two songs to represent it (so far) was a thankless task, one that she outsourced (“because I’m too close to it,” she acknowledges) but did add a few tracks to signify changes in songwriting.

Credit: Courtesy of Anti Records

Credit: Courtesy of Anti Records

“Wild Creatures,” named after one of its tracks, was released digitally via Anti Records in April and will get a vinyl release when currently pervasive and lengthy pressing plant delays allow. The icing on top of the compilation is the twenty-third, and new, song “Oh, Shadowless.” It’s a gently strummed dreamscape that descends into cacophony a minute in, only to return to its acoustic beauty moments later.

“That one was recorded for my last record but it just didn’t feel finished, and there wasn’t a lot of time left,” says Case. “But that’s the great thing about having recorded product, is that you can keep working on it. That song I was really attached to but it just wasn’t fitting with the other things, so this was the perfect opportunity to work on it some more and get it to where I wanted it to be.”

Credit: Ebru Yildiz

Credit: Ebru Yildiz

Accompanying “Oh, Shadowless” is a must-watch animated video by Laura Plansker, with whom Case collaborated previously on her “Last Lion of Albion” video. Featuring animals of every variety, dreams and a tornado, the clip is a welcome product of Plansker’s imagination. “I told her some things I love, but I told her to just please be as weird as she felt like she wanted to be, because that’s what always really appealed to me about her work,” the singer relates. “It’s really sweet but man, is it dark. But also super funny. She’s just got such a great sense of humor, and is such a skilled, talented, smart person.”

Case was thrilled with the results of the video plus website animation Plansker created for all of the “Wild Creatures” tracks, part of a multimedia experience that includes commentary and short essays by friends, collaborators and admirers of the musician. The collection of words was a surprise to Case, solicited by her manager.

The commentaries knocked her out. “It was really overwhelming,” she acknowledges. “I had to wait until I was going to be by myself so I could cry in a room to read it. I still have to reach out to all those people and thank them. It was a surprise,” Case continues, “and I had no idea it was happening, but I’m so grateful to everyone.” The essays, by everyone from fellow New Pornographer Carl Newman to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to Georgia’s own Amy Ray of Indigo Girls (“I love her so!” exclaims Case), are a profound, diverse recognition of the admiration, respect and love so many have for the artist.

Case, whose music is not easy to label or pigeonhole (but, for the uninitiated, frequently has elements of what would be considered indie rock, country and folk), champions representation in the industry and recently called attention to a statistic connected to her ownership of Carnassial Sound, a studio in her current home base of Vermont. Only 1.9% of studios are owned by women, which she acknowledges is “a terrible stat.” Case notes regarding traditional lack of female studio ownership, “we haven’t really been invited to that even though we’ve always been there,” but is optimistic about recent changes. “I feel like music itself is catching up and women are starting to really saturate, and non-binary folks and female-identifying people in general are widening the doors forcibly, which is really wonderful,” she says.

“I know that there are a lot of people out there who want to feel really, really supported when they’re in a recording studio because it is an incredibly vulnerable situation,” Case continues. “I’ve been pretty lucky but I’ve definitely been in recording situations where I’ve been bullied and I didn’t appreciate it, at all. I want to see more studios owned by people of every kind.” She credits Canadian producer Darryl Neudorf for enlightening her about elements of recording and production that were often weighted toward men and telling her when she was being a producer in her own right. “There’s room for everybody in music, it’s not sports. I think it’s gonna catch up,” she concludes. “I’m very inspired by what I see with younger bands.”

Carnassial Sound will be the site of Case’s next solo recording output, roughly five months from now. “Yes, I’ve been writing a lot,” she’s happy to confirm. “There’s a lot of little snippets. There’s too much touring right now, and I have other commitments as well, but I think probably around February we’ll start recording.” Case is also working on new material with the New Pornographers, especially as two fellow members (Carl Newman and Joe Seiders) are in her band for this tour.

And the tour is going from strength to strength, with Case recently adding long-time favorites “Deep Red Bells” and “Star Witness” to set lists. “There’s a lot that’s on the comp,” she says about the current show. “We’re kind of a stripped down band, so some of the stuff doesn’t translate so we’ve been doing other things and covers of things that are unusual. There’s a lot of the super-popular material and then there’s deep cuts and weird stuff.” That means something for everybody when Case and company make their long-awaited return to Atlanta.


CONCERT PREVIEW

Neko Case with Sean Rowe

8 p.m. Sept. 13. $39.50-$59.50. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta. variety-playhouse.com.