After announcing new tour dates this past weekend, Neko Case has formally unveiled plans for her seventh studio solo album, Hell-On, and released its smoky opener and title track. More amusingly, she’s confirmed something we were already pretty darn sure of: Yes, that was her house in Vermont that burned down last September while she was in Sweden. (At the time, she tried rather strenuously to deny it.) We can probably guess why Case was in Sweden, too: She produced Hell-On herself, but enlisted help on half of it from Bjorn Yttling of Swedish indie folk band Peter Bjorn & John. Other featured artists on Hell-On include Beth Ditto, Mark Lanegan, k.d. Lang, A.C. Newman, Laura Veirs, and more.
Case’s most recent studio album was 2013’s The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, but she’s been busy ever since, collaborating with Lang and Veirs on 2016’s lovely case/lang/veirs and appearing on the New Pornographers’ 2017 album Whiteout Conditions. Hear “Hell-On,” see the Hell-On track list, and read Case’s full personal statement (including confirmation of house fire) below. Check out her upcoming 2018 tour dates here.
Neko Case, Hell-On track list
2. “Last Lion of Albion”
3. “Halls of Sarah”
4. “Bad Luck”
5. “Curse of the I-5 Corridor”
6. “Gumball Blue”
7. “Dirty Diamond”
8. “Oracle of the Maritime”
10. “Sleep All Summer”
11. “My Uncle’s Navy”
12. “Pitch or Honey”
My name is Neko Case. I am a music producer, songwriter, and musician. I just finished a record called ‘Hell-On’ with a cast of talented musicians, techs, label folks and friends.
What I want you to know about me isn’t too much, nor do I want to over talk it. What you take away on your own, as a listener is most important. I worked really hard and I was present for every second of this project. Producing a record is a huge task and there were times I was deep in the weeds, but that is normal for a record that takes a year plus. The weeds aren’t so bad. There were a lot of break-through moments, belly-laughs, sleepless nights and grubby, shiny jeans. In the end it was all worth it and I am so proud of how it turned out, and I am so grateful to have worked with such dedicated, giving artists to make it happen.
There were a few challenges during the making of 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.
I write songs from a feeling of solidarity with folks who feel alone or isolated, I think I’m trying to comfort people in this way. It’s not a forceful way rather “No commitment necessary;” take it if you want it, take it as you can.
My style is odd, I don’t know what genre this is. I don’t have a pretty voice or a trained voice, and I am constantly disappointed that I don’t have a “tough” voice, no matter how hard I practice, but it’s mine, and for all its loud, heavy-handed, nasal, vibrato-less qualities I accept it. The closest sound I have found to compare it to is Bulgarian Folk singing. My Eastern ancestors could have been proud of me a century ago? I could have been a droning “caller of wasps” perhaps? I just invented that job, I like the sound of it.
The songs are who I believe myself to be and that will change, but for now that’s how it is and I’m very satisfied with that.