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Feels Like the Third Time

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Album Review

Freakwater's third album finds them treading similar ground to their first two albums, but since no one else really does what they do, more of the same is welcome. The beautiful harmonies of Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean remain the focus, and Dave Gay, as always, provides solid support on the upright bass; this time out augmented by Brian Dunn on guitar and Lisa Marsicek on fiddle and mandolin. Cathy Irwin's songwriting continues to progress, as this time she accounts for half of the album's tunes. Janet Bean contributes one song with choice covers by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Conway Twitty, and Nick Lowe. Similar in sound to the Carter Family and Gillian Welch, Freakwater stands apart because their lyrics are so firmly rooted in the modern world; no dustbowl ballads here. Sounding more traditional than most neo-traditional country acts with lyrics that have a more modern bite than most contemporary country, it's Freakwater's ability to effortlessly straddle these two worlds that makes them such a special band.


Formed: 1987 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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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