Despite being something of an all-star line-up, Case/Lang/Veirs finds an extraordinary level of balance. Rather than trying to fit each of the powerful vocals in the forefront from beginning to end, the album leaves space for each voice to find intimacy and subtlety. In the case of the song “Supermoon,” Case is given center stage to offer an eerie melody performed over tense instrumentation with the supporting vocals of Lang and Veirs echoing off in the distance.
According to Neko Case, who wrote the lyrics, the song is about “venture capitalism.” Case begins the song with the risky capitalist venture of gold mining pioneers:
Never used to live this long
Pioneers my dear, press on
This passage also matches the nervous energy of the soundscape as the pioneers must continue forward despite being unsure about their success. The chorus seems to touch upon the struggles of capitalism as the character in question must face the reality of their financial struggles leaving love as the only option;”Our life savings aren’t enough/Have to love you hard and make it up.” The song seems to constantly make connections between nature and more socially constructed ideas; “Nature isn’t magic/It’s just a mystery to us.” Parallels are drawn between a river and a carousel. Although the two are connected by simile, they also pull apart from each other as the carousel yields a more predictable result than the rapid changing possibilities of the river. This gives us more insight to the nature of capitalism as the river is the unpredictability of risk, whereas the carousel suggests ease in stagnation.
The rampant unease of the lyricism serves as the model for the yearning sounds that fill the sonic space. Beginning with simple guitar noodling, the song picks up more and more strings as it develops increasing the sense of urgency. Strings are used in different ways throughout. First their droning capabilities are used to slowly creep into the picture. After the second chorus, the strings are given opportunity to sing out more, offering a rather touching melody, before returning to their role of atmosphere.
Case/Lang/Veirs is a great album. Sonically it fits into 2016 perfectly and the practiced songwriting prowess of each member of the trio pushes it past some of the other folk releases this year. I highly recommend it and “Supermoon” may be a solid deep cut or an intriguing starting point.