Neko Case Hell-On“Sometimes where there’s smoke, it’s just a smoke machine, honey,” sings Neko Case on Gumball Blue. But for this celebrated American artist, smoke always signals fire.

Hell-On burns with the best of Case’s craft: smouldering country-noir ballads, fiery folktales and incandescent pop-rock anthems, lyrics like flickering flames against the darkness. The title track tells us “God is a lusty tyre fire/ Its bristles scrape and strike the stage/ A rock-paper-scissors rage.” This elemental force fuels the entire record, written “from a feeling of solidarity with folks who feel alone or isolated,” Neko says in a press release. “I think I’m trying to comfort people in this way.” Joining Case here to spread warmth and inspiration are friends and collaborators Beth Ditto, Mark Lanegan, k.d. Lang, AC Newman, and Laura Veirs among others.

Hell-On is out June 1 via ANTI-.

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