“Ideas are like rabbits,” says Neko Case. “They breed like crazy.” In her nearly 20-year career as one of music’s most wry, distinctive singer-songwriters, she has learned to trust her instincts -- the most important of which is not to rush the process. This in part explains the long gap between her last solo LP, 2013’s Grammy-nominated The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, and her newest, Hell-On, a polished set of elliptical observations and pristine hooks out June 1. “I spend a lot of time going down rabbit holes,” continues Case, 47. “It’s not an efficient way to do things, but I find it serves the songs better.”
Even so, she’s in the middle of a remarkably prolific period. In the lead-up to Hell-On, Case found time to record and tour two other full-length projects: Case/Lang/Veirs, the excellent 2016 debut from her Americana supergroup with k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, and 2017’s Whiteout Conditions, her seventh album with Canadian-American indie-rock stalwarts The New Pornographers. She has also been rebuilding the 225-year-old Vermont farmhouse where she has lived for the past decade after it was badly damaged in a fire last September.
Before she settles in to discuss her creative process on Hell-On at the downtown Brooklyn hotel where she’s staying, Case -- who’s dressed ultra-comfortably in a well-worn Queen T-shirt and what look like pajama pants -- pops a couple of Advil for a morning headache (“I’m still getting over some Berlin jet lag”). “It takes a long time to know what you’re doing sometimes,” she says. “I could not write my thesis on this album yet, that’s for sure. But I feel good about it.”