Peter Case – Flying Saucer Blues (2000)

Folk-rock wanderer Peter Case has always been enthusiastic, high-spirited, and skilled. I’ve admired his independent spirit, his devotion to his craft, and his relentlessness — he’s been at this solo thing for quite a while now. He’s consistently entertaining, and while he is stronger as a social and political satirist in his clever writing than he is as a profound poet, he knows how to turn a phrase. He’s a storyteller at heart, and his albums play like road trip journals.

Musically, Case’s skill is obvious, but I find myself wondering why he plays it so safe; I would never recognize his guitar playing if tested.

Flying Saucer Blues is as good a place as any to start in Case’s catalogue (my favorite remains the self-titled recording, where T-Bone Burnett’s production brought more dimension and character to the songs.)

“Paradise, Etc.” is energetic and fun. But the keepers here are “The Blue Distance”, a surprisingly strong song of love that toes the line of transcendance, and “This Could Be the One”, a funny and sad anthem of unrequited and, indeed, unexpressed love.

Producer Andrew Williams is just inventive enough to keep things interesting. But I can’t shake the feeling that the Great Peter Case album is yet to to come, when all of these excursions through country, folk, and rock will fuse and culminate into something unforgettable.

Five words or less: Worth hearing.

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