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Springtime

Freakwater

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Album Review

A consolidation of Freakwater's status as one of the best — perhaps the best — 1990s exponents of the folk-country tradition. The Appalachian flavor is, if anything, a little more pronounced than usual, but the songwriting is utterly contemporary, and the Irwin-Bean harmonies among their best. "Binding Twine," with its delectably sad melody and vocals, has the makings of a modern classic; "Jesus Year" has some great trembling harmonies; and "Slowride," more unexpectedly, has the country-rock punch of the late-'60s Byrds in that group's better moments. Most unusual lyrical twist: "Louisville Lip," inspired by Muhammad Ali's toss of his gold medal into the Ohio River after getting denied service at a restaurant. Max Konrad Johnston, formerly of Wilco, helps out on guitar, fiddle, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, and vocals, helping devise a sound that is both spare and textured.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Despite their alternative rock pedigree and their home on a label better known for experimental music, Freakwater was one of the most traditionally grounded bands on the alternative country scene. Singers/guitarists/songwriters Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin mix original material (with a contemporary lyrical perspective) and traditional covers, all done in a spare, acoustic country-folk style with close vocal harmonies. Their instrumentation often features string band staples like steel...
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Springtime, Freakwater
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