Neko Case

Neko Case's first live album, The Tigers Have Spoken, leans heavily upon its supporting cast. The semi-Canadian songstress often tours with only two extra players, making the full instrumentation on Tigers an unauthentic take on a typical Case show, but who's complaining? Backing band the Sadies have an alt-country glory that fits Case's live show perfectly, and the gorgeous backing vocals of Kelly Hogan and Carolyn Mark lend a dreamy, Motown touch to the affair. There's also the less obvious support found in the album's seven cover songs, as Case's knack for picking great classics is brightened by rousing renditions of the Shangri-Las' "Train From Kansas City" and the traditional folk song "This Little Light." Even better, her live performance of "Wayfaring Stranger" gets an extra boost from the greatest swell of audience singing I've ever heard on tape. Of course, Case's booming voice, along with two sharp new original tunes, reminds us that all the support means nothing without her in charge. Aside from some surprising vocal trouble in "Favorite" and a tragically short running time of 34 minutes, Tigers succeeds with more unique (and gorgeous) content than anyone should reasonably expect from a live album.

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