It’s very seldom that live albums match the sound of studio albums or improve on their songs in any way. Neko Case decided to tackle this by recording an album of mostly unused material and covers, and somehow the live recordings mostly hit studio quality. Case’s alt-country sound shines in this atmosphere with an even stronger presence of that sound here than on Middle Cyclone, with the right amount of alt-rock mixed in with older country sounds. It’s a refreshing sound for those tired of the really pop-y new country music, that sounds trashy compared to its rich history.
The album opens on the twangy “If You Knew” that has some amazing background vocals and has some amazing echo with the right pair of headphones. “Soulful Shade Of Blue” is one of the best country songs Case sings, whose slide guitar never seems cliche, and whose chorus gets catchier with every listen.
“Train From Kansas City” comes out running, with all the rush of a train in its rhythm section, and its final note feels perfect. “The Tigers Have Spoken” mixes a sad story with some beautifully ringing guitar sounds and Case’s voice cuts through it all with power.
“Loretta” comes in with all the fury of a rockabilly sound, its ooos, shredding guitar and the energy that case brings to the performance make it a really unique recording, especially when she changes the “makes me feel like number 1” line to count off “12345678.” “Favourite” is the Case’s most old school country song on the album, playing in the style of a classic, sad, love ballad that works perfectly with her voice. The album finishes comically on a monologue Case does about feeding children to tigers to save them from extinction.