The 888/88/8: Album #01.
Do you have examples of where you’re a fan of the artist, like and love some of their work, don’t necessarily own every last thing – but there’s that one album connects with you in a whole other all-time-favorites sort of way?
I’ve got a few of those. They’re prime for this list of 88 albums, and Neko Case’s 2006 release is a perfect example of the niche. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood exists in my listening life as a full-length, start-to-finish cohesive piece, and many albums you and I would both consider “great” don’t necessarily accomplish that.
Case’s renowned, clear voice (and the echo that couches it) provide the most consistent thread through the particular atmosphere she achieves in these recordings. Beyond her vocals, the gentlemen of Calexico and The Band’s Garth Hudson play key supporting roles in creating the rest of Fox Confessor’s atmosphere. Their recognizable textural contributions go well past famous-name liner note namedropping.
If you don’t know the album, it’s fair to play the first track, “Margaret vs. Pauline”, and if you dislike it, you can just move on.
Of course, Case’s songwriting has to serve as the foundation for the whole experience — engaging without revealing too much behind its tales or symbols. She carried that attitude into the production. Consider a recording and traits like:
- Clear lyric narrative
- Conventional song structure
- Straightforward band arrangement
Fox Confessor pretty much gives the listener only one of those at a time. Two, maybe but rarely and not for long. Does that sound like a weakness? It’s not. (Not in this case, anyway.)
A lyric may offer a limited, or already-in-progress view into what is really happening. Full band gives way to pared down and back again. But throughout, Case’s voice is the guide through an instrumentally varied terrain that is rich in imagination (and wildlife). It’s a distinctive balance — Case delivers plenty of dynamics, drama, and melody while always sounding solidly in control as the storyteller.
Some albums may drift in and out of anyone’s favorites list over time. That’s natural. Fifteen years after it came out and promptly leaped onto my list, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood turns out to be quite sturdy, and as evocative as ever. Picked with confidence as the 888/88/8 Project’s first of 88 album keepers.
Let’s give the last word to the last track.