November 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Part torched twang and part blue-eyed soul, Neko Case’s voice vaults impressively over pedal steel, banjo, and assorted countrified six-strings on her fourth CD, The Tigers Have Spoken, recorded at several concerts this year with surf-C&W practitioners the Sadies and other guests. Case runs the emotional gamut of her alt-country songbook, from the swaggering ”If You Knew” to the haunting ”Blacklisted,” then takes on Loretta Lynn’s sassy ”Rated X” and turns ”This Little Light” into a string-plinked gospel breakdown. A breathtaking 35 minutes.

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