Vancouver's Neko Case has had a long and varied career. Both on her own and as a secret member of the New Pornographers, Case has developed a dedicated following for her strong vocals and varied folk-inspired musicality. Case's latest solo effort, Middle Cyclone, continues her string of solid albums.
Opening with the energetic "The Tornado Loves You," Case weaves a strong collage of sound through the album. The mixing and song selection of the album shine, as each song has complex instrumentals that compliment rather than drown out the lyrics, while the album is constructed in a manner that maximizes each song's emotional resonance. Case cleverly changes up minor details of the music throughout, switching the primary backing instrument from guitars and banjos to things like organs and piano. Case's smokey vocals are the main draw on this album, much like her previous offerings, but the minor variations prevent the songs from running together.
Neko Case's most recent album does not re-invent the wheel. The wheel, much like Case's prior albums, is perfectly fine the way it is. Instead, Case finds ways to solve prior minor flaws and produce yet another excellent musical experience.