Neko Case has the most compelling voice in popular music. Full stop. She could sing the phone book and it would sound thrilling, and beautiful, and mysterious, and vaguely threatening. Luckily, she’s a really good songwriter too.

She got her start in cowboy punk bands, but drifted pretty quickly to a kind of timeless Americana, starting with 1997′s The Virginian. Of course, as every indie fanboy knows, she really came to popular attention as a singer in the New Pornographers, who burst on the scene with 2000′s Mass Romantic. She didn’t do any writing for them, but she elevated every song she appeared on and is at least partially responsible for most of their classics.

Neko Case: Middle CycloneHer army of ardent admirers (yes, yes, she’s beautiful) helped make 2002′s Blacklisted a big success, and every album since then has gotten richer, not to mention more successful.

The latest, out this month, is Middle Cyclone. It’s got guest appearances from an array of indie luminaries from M. Ward to members of the New Pornographers, but as always the focus is on that spooky, haunting, amazing voice.

This isn’t the best song from the album, but given the context, how could I choose any other? It’s a cover of a song from the band Sparks: “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth.” Word.