The Art of "torch singing" is not yet (completely?) lost, as even a cursory listen to this, the latest platter by Neko Case, will attest. Case started out in punk rock (as a drummer), then became an alternative country singer (hear the fine The Virginian to hear how she reinvents songs by the Everly Bros. and Scott Walker) and now.... ? It’s not rock, it ain’t country, it’s not retro-Swing/neo-Lounge, it’s not pop or MOR.... but hey, in the words of The Duke, there’s really only two kinds of music: good and bad. And this disc is good, baby. Ms. Case has a range that makes the great k.d. lang sound like Kate Smith. Since we live in an era where most singers think "range" is something on which to boil water or be home on, Ms. Case is a most welcome tonic. She sings with fine presence - commanding without being overbearing - and depth, evoking the stark, keen winds of late Autumn. The music has overtones of early mountain music (the earliest country music, long before The Nashville Machine), the bluest, most forlorn of late-night Peggy Lee ballads and Henry Mancini, Angelo Badalamente and Ennio Morricone (plenty of Experiment In Terror trebly-twang electric guitar) soundtrack music at their respective noir-est - if pressed to put a label on this, I’d say "Western noir’ is as good as any. (If John Huston or David Lynch directed a Bogart noir set in Arizona or New Mexico, Ms. Case would be the saloon singer.) If you’re a connoisseur of great singers and could give a 2 hoots about "categories," you’ve got to hear how this firecracker of a gal puts a song across.