Since 1986, Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin and Janet Beveridge Beam have understood alt-Americana as just another facet of scrappy Louisville punk: Freakwater’s country is dark and nasty, imperfectly sung by two women who probably wouldn’t hesitate to scoop your eyeballs out with finger picks. On Thinking of You .. ., their seventh full-length, the band’s undercooked folk songs are lifted by Chicago’s Califone, whose pedal steel and pump organ accentuate Freakwater’s Appalachian despair. The perky “Jack the Knife” laments the loss of a blade “left behind,” quite possibly in someone’s chest (“Spiraling downward/ Long red ribbons to the ground/ Turn it smooth as a razor/Where the skin came all unwound”), while Evelyn Weston’s musical saw giggles toothily at the bloodshed, all chuckles and sighs. Meanwhile, the honking, full-band bluster (supposedly inspired by Elvis’s soundtrack work) of “So Strange” serves as apt warning to future heartbreakers. Appropriately, Thinking of You . . . boasts wicked cover art, all Hallmark-cursive and burning red roses: Once again, Freakwater choose death and liquor over tissues and chocolates. Watch your back.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2005