[B]'Furnace Room Lullaby'[/B] is a great stroke of post-alt-country near-genius...

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Furnace Room Lullaby

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Furnace Room Lullaby

OK. The moniker suffix is embarrassing, the artist-as-corpse/killer/donkey sleeve artwork is suspect, and the reputation that precedes Neko Case – straight C&W of the most cringeworthy, all-seater-stadium order – is a tad unnerving. But then, hey, Patsy Cline and [a]Johnny Cash[/a] are nothing to be ashamed of.

And you can wipe that smirk off your face right now, stetson-phobes, because ‘Furnace Room Lullaby’ is a great stroke of post-alt-country near-genius. With the benefit of 21st century reason and a considerable dose of insanity, this 100 per cent all-croonin’ an’ a-strummin’ Tammy Wynette-plays-the-Grand-Ole-Opry waxwork of suffering and soul-bearing becomes a joy to behold.

Show me a heart that fails to warm to the title track’s tangible torment or ‘Thrice All American’‘s anachronistic strummertime cod-patriotism and I’ll show you a shrivelled plum. Even songs like Neko‘s otherwise unforgivable ‘Guided By Wire’ – double portion of achy breaky hearts, big dollop of pedal steel twang – can be tolerated by simply turning one’s taste-dial back on to the country station.

Not easy, granted, but once there, you’ll never look back.