Mention country music, and most people think Shania Twain, Randy Travis or Hank Jr. But for real country music, these days you have to look towards Freakwater. Ignoring the country-in-name-only sound coming out of Nashville, these Chicago women have created their own sound from the ashes of Skeeter Davis, Bob Wills, and Bill Monroe. Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean have created some memorable haunting songs on their new record, End Time . Their past records have been quite interesting and contained some really good songs, but no previous record they have made compares to End Time . This record ranks with the best work of Lucinda Williams, and I have for years considered her the torchbearer for true country music. She may still be carrying the torch, but it is now in a relay with Freakwater. Irwin and Beans’ delicate harmonies, wrapped around the bluegrass melodies on songs like “Good For Nothing” and “Sick,Sick,Sick” are absolutely heartbreaking. Whether you call it roots country, alternative country, y’allternative, or good music, Freakwater fills the bill wonderfully.
Thrill Jockey Records, Box 476794, Chicago, IL 60647