Screenshot: “Hell-On” video (YouTube)

After teasing new music this weekend with an eerie, tarantula-covered video and revealing full album details yesterday, Neko Case has released the first single from her upcoming seventh solo album, Hell-On, due out June 1 on her longtime label ANTI-. In yesterday’s announcement, Case wrote, “I don’t know what genre this is,” and sure enough, the shadowy waltz of “Hell-On” is hard to pin down, as it shape-shifts through darkness and light, from confessional to cautionary tale. “Have mercy on the natural world,” she repeats several times. And as always with Case’s songs, it’s full of great, poetic lines. Here are a choice few:

“God is a lusty tire fire”

“My voice is straight garotting wire
A stolen mile of fingerprints
Peel the quiet from the dunes
Captured and re-spooled as ruined to be used
At a different time”

“Despite heartfelt springtimes of regret
The storm she still cries for days”

Read Case’s full statement on Hell-On and see the tracklist below.

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.


Hell-On tracklist:

  1. Hell-On
  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 Maritimes
  9. Winnie
  10. Sleep All Summer
  11. My Uncle’s Navy
  12. Pitch or Honey