This Tornado Loves Me

Grabbing at the words to describe Neko Case’s voice is an exercise in contrived metaphors. We all know that leaving the job to mere adjectives would be insulting so we just keep searching for that elusive comparison that will help us comprehend her miraculous sound. I was reminded of this during a concert last Wednesday. I’ve seen Neko perform more than any other artist, more times than I can even remember. I’m endlessly moved by her recordings and live performances, but I can’t describe why.

As far as I can explain, her music has always been the sound of everything I want my life to be–powerful, brutal, vulnerable, wounded, cutting, knowing, unpredictable, self-aware, surprising, exhilarating  and so on. It is so much the stuff of my waking dreams that I frequently feel as if I inhabit a space inside of it. There’s a wetness to her voice that suggests the moist soil where new things grow. And if she is the sound of “new life,” she is also the sound of “escape the familiar.” She is the sound of “quit your soul-killing day job,” “be bolder” and “be uncompromising when necessary.” She is the sound of beautiful, joyful, righteous rebellion, and I felt myself readying for rebellion as last week’s concert began to affect me. I have to admit that this took me by surprise. I didn’t know I needed to rebel and I certainly didn’t expect to find the inciting experience in the voice of a favorite singer. But I do know that I heard what I was supposed to hear. I don’t yet know what form my rebellion must take, but I heard that it’s coming.

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