Music moves me. It might be a lyric that conveys a sense of place, the persistent beat of a snare drum propelling a melody to an unknown destination, or the ascending notes of a guitar chord played in succession that sets my mind wandering, but the restlessness certain albums stir up is nearly impossible to resist.
Lately I've found myself repeatedly listening to Neko Case's new album Middle Cyclone. On the opening track, "This Tornado Loves You," she sings: "My love, I'm an owl on the sill in the evening—but morning finds you still warm and breathing." Stretching out that last word, she lets it fade completely like an echo. An instant later she begins again, pleading the refrain as the music builds, swirling around that singular voice, and I'm carried away.
Earlier this week I watched her perform songs from this excellent recording at the Nokia Theatre Times Square. The energy in the room naturally rose and fell as the band alternated between slower waltzes and smoldering rock numbers, but to me the entire set felt like an invitation to hit the road. Especially after Neko's backup singer Kelly Hogan encouraged the assembled New Yorkers to howl like coyotes in their cubicles the next day.
As the night wore on, I couldn't help thinking about my camping trip to southern Utah last May. Even as I left the venue, the urge to roam lingered. Instead of riding the subway back under the East River, part of me wanted to climb into a car and drive West: across the Hudson, past the Appalachians, through the Great Plains, and beyond.