Bass Concert Hall, February 8, 8 p.m.
by Neal Baker
Seven albums deep into an alt-country career, it’s hard to tell that Neko Case got her start as a punk drummer at an art school in Vancouver. Indeed, the singer-songwriter’s talents are various — she has lent them out more recently and more notably to indie group The New Pornographers. But on her own, she has made a name for herself singing moody country and folk, set apart by her dark sense of poetry and gently raspy voice.
On her latest release, “Hell-On,” spots of her indie history poke through. Thoughtfully arranged tracks introduce strings, horns, organs, synths and a little kalimba for good measure, creating a sound that’s saturated and colorful in a somber sort of way, but also leaves plenty of space for Case to brood and reflect and recount stories from the more comfortless parts of her life — “memories I’d pay to remove,” as she describes them in her track “My Uncle’s Navy.” But the flip side of the all the gloom is an unwavering calm and conviction, as well as a sense for when to brighten up and move back into more up-tempo territory, as on “Bad Luck” and the confident conclusion to “Pitch or Honey.”
The supporting tour for “Hell-On” is bringing Case through Austin on February 8, when she’ll play Bass Concert Hall. The 8 p.m. show is presented by KUTX and features opening act Kimya Dawson.