by Mitch Myers
In case you werent paying attention, country rock is alive and well and living in Vancouver. Thats where Neko Case & Her Boyfriends reside. Our girl from Up North has been touring bars and roadsides all over the continent for several years now and her brand of high-lonesome corn pone is invigorated by a bracing, expressive voice. While her lovesick warble can sometimes recall a young Dolly Parton or a punk-fueled Brenda Lee, Ms. Case is a straightforward singer-songwriter with an energetic perspective on contemporary heartbreak. When you get down to it, Furnace Room Lullaby (much like her debut disc, The Virginian) takes a deceptively simple position: Love stinks. While her sophomore effort is more than a little jaded, Case seems ready for romance in spite of herself. She knows better and her hearts been through the wringer, yet here she is again. A guest appearance by fellow Canadian Ron Sexsmith is simply overshadowed by Nekos powerful persona. Accompanied by musicians from Freakwater and her labelmates, the Sadies, Case blazes through 12 original compositions with plenty of verve and a whole lot of country style. One could always hear tradition in Neko Cases music. Now its time to listen to her song.