Blacklisted, Neko Case's recent Bloodshot release, comprises a plangent mash of torch and twang that could set the stage for some serious whiplash if Case decides to grind the gears from present to past. Case's music has often glanced off multiple genres, incorporating atmospheric shifts from the maudlin "She's Leaving Town" to the effervescent "Poor Ellen Smith" and the fervent "Pretty Girl." That last song, along with most of the songs from Blacklisted, will invade your waking hours, its figures' hauntings scored to pedal-steel, electric guitar and Wurlitzer organ. Blacklisted is overflowing with soulful regrets, ardent longings and uncanny imagery, facets of C&W lurking beneath its hoots and boot-stomping. The heartrending "Things That Scare Me," punctuated by twelve-string and banjo, twists Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" into a baleful dirge: "The hammer clicks in place/The world's gonna pay/ Right down in the face of God and his saints/Claim your soul is not for sale/I'm a dying breed who still believes/Haunted by American dreams."
The headliner's reason enough to get down to Off Broadway this Friday night, but the two opening acts -- Catherine Irwin (of Freakwater) and Carolyn Mark (of the Corn Sisters) -- provide added incentive. Both Irwin's and Marks' slants linger in folksier traditions than Case's, creating a winsome complement. You can bet the cowgirls are gonna be out tonight.