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Alt-country songstress Neko Case shines
American songstress Neko Case just keeps getting better. The alt-country star is headlining Massey Hall this month as part of the Canadian Music Week festival on the heels of her first much-deserved Grammy Award nomination for her stunning new album The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.
“It was gratifying, for sure,” says Case, of her nomination. “I was very touched.”
But it wasn’t easy. Case made the record while struggling through a well-documented depression as a result of a number of family tragedies in a short period of time.
“Depression is super-monotonous,” says Case. “It was a lengthy grind. Later as I started to come out of it there were sparks here and there that would become more frequent.”
Despite the rather long and winding road the album took, the process may have helped her make sense of things and move on.
“At the time I couldn’t tell, but in hindsight, forcing myself to focus (even though I don’t recall the particulars well) was a good, propelling exercise, for sure,” she explains.
Another source of comfort and continued inspiration is Neko Cases’s Vermont farm.
“I lived here as a kid for a time. It’s the only place I ever felt like I fit in when I was little. The people were so kind. I always wanted to come back,” she says.
“Plus, I’m a forest lover, so I wanted to live on a farm but be in the woods, too. It’s the best decision I ever made.”
Currently the farm is populated by Case and a number of barnyard friends.
“It’s a late spring, I just heard the peepers for the first time this morning! I missed them!” she says. “My horse is named Norman. He’s a fuzzy (and currently really sheddy) peach. I’ve lost a few chickens, which sucks, but other than that, the critters are happy and spring is here!”
Easily considered one of the most talented singersongwriters in recent memory, Cases’s new album, her eighth, has vaulted her to ever-greater acclaim. But Case, who has an uneasy relationship with fame, is pretty content right where she is at present.
When asked what success looks like to her, she replies: “Right now, this very minute, I call the shots but with talented, trusted friends to advise me. I have creative control and I can go to the grocery store!”
It isn’t that she doesn’t love her fans. She just needs balance.
“Luckily I’m not so famous that I can’t go to the drugstore and buy embarrassing products without ending up in the tabloids,” says Case. “I’ve known a few people in that game though, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m here to be a musician, but I really do want to make the audience happy, too. I think both sides can benefit. I like to keep myself as accessible as I can to show people making art and music is totally doable and positive. I like to acknowledge that it’s their Saturday night, too, not just mine, you know? I like trying to break the glass curtain. I am very private, however.”
Case also says she has a soft spot for Toronto and her song “Ragtime” was inspired by it.
“In a way it's a bit of a love song to it,” she says. “I love to visit my friends [in Toronto] and eat! I also love walking around there. It’s a great city as far as neighborhoods to ramble through.”
Case plays Massey Hall on May 9.
Neko Case is in town this month for a show at Massey Hall