Neko Case’s new album Hell-On is now streaming on NPR. From the looks of it, the record seems to add to Case’s repertoire of songs that sound like they’ve always existed, both musically and lyrically. (From the singles alone, we have instantly iconic lines like the title track’s “nothing quite so poisoned as a promise”, “so I died and went to work “from “Bad Luck,” and “I fucked every man I wanted to be” from “Curse of the I-5 Corridor”.) A new album from her is always a treat, and between the released songs and that messy, eye-catching cover, another instant classic seems inevitable. Even from a cursory listen, this album already feels like one of her most ambitious.
Hell-On was produced with Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, mixed with Lasse Mårtén (Lykke Li, Jonsi, Chrissie Hynde), and features pretty much everyone Neko’s ever collaborated with from case/lang/veirs collaborators K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs to New Pornographers member A.C. Newman, as well as Mark Lanegan. In a statement, Neko admitted to the difficulties of making this record, “from small (scheduling difficulties, and occasional miscommunication) to large (my house burning down while I was overseas.) But none of them are the story of this recording, the songs are the story. They are my best self. They are everything I’ve worked for since I was a kid, whether I knew it or not.”