Edgy Mountain Music From the Dark End Of Lonelyville.
Apart from seeing a friend wearing a Freakwater t-shirt at SummerTyne Festival last year’; I’d not heard of the band before receiving this album.
In RMHQ any release on Bloodshot is worth a listen; but I have to say this one took a few airings before I finally succumbed to its ‘charm.’
The opening track What The People Want; nearly lulled me into a false sense of security with some sizzling fiddle playing as Janet Beam and Catherine Irwin produce some staggeringly cool harmonies on a relatively simple ‘Mountain Music’ love song.
Then a pedal-steel threatens your senses as the next track, the Asp and the Albatross opens; followed by honey sweet harmonies that mask a song with a bit of a punch to it.
Ha! That’s the thing about, Freakwater….nothing is as it first seems. Like most Bloodshot acts they are pure 100% Country fans; but they certainly put the Alt. into Alternative.
Yes, songs like Skinny Knee Bone and Memory Vendor are as lovely as anything Emmylou sang in her early years; but listen closely to Take Me With You and Velveteen Matador you will find lyrics darker than the pits of Hades on a rainy day.
When you find yourself getting lost in those glorious harmonies it’s easy to miss some razor sharp guitar and fiddle playing throughout; check out the brooding Falls of Sleep to get my point. Also long term Freakwater bass player Dave Gay could easily be described as the spine of the band; as he holds everything together like superglue.
I will have to find even more time to really listen to Scheherazade on headphones; as some of the songs like Number One With a Bullet and Missionfield sound perfect for getting lost in.
If you want ‘Atmospheric Alt. Country’ of the finest hue; look no further than Ghost Song, which closes the record. Janet and Catherine’s voices intertwine, go off at tangents and come back again on another Devilishly dark story that stops just short of being Gothic.
Scheherazade is Freakwater’s tenth album in 26 years (although their first in ten!) but they have become an instant and overnight success at Rocking Magpie Towers!
Released February 5th 2016