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Freakwater

Thinking of You – 2005 (Thrill Jockey)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Freakwater

A six year absence and two stylistically diverse solo albums are never good omens for a band's continued existence, but Freakwater has yet to tailor their career according to any accepted industry handbook.

Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean had intended to take a short break from Freakwater and then reconvene three years ago, but it didn't happen that way; instead Irwin recorded the sparse and powerful country/folk statement of "Cut Yourself a Switch," and Bean turned out the lush, atmospheric pop of "Dragging Wonder Lake."

For anyone who doubted the pair would ever reconvene based on the broad differences of their solo albums, Irwin and Bean dispel all questions here. The burning roses on the cover offer a hint at Irwin and Bean's standard, but hardly traditional explorations of love and life gone wrong, while the soundtrack mirrors the pair's expansive interpretations of the country, bluegrass and folk idioms.

Although Irwin and Bean employ regulars David Gay on bass and Jon Spiegel on pedal steel, the band is stunningly supplemented with help from labelmates Califone, including frontman Tim Rutilli who serves as co-producer and multi-instrumentalist. As a result, this is an album steeped in the hallowed country reverence of the Carter Family, yet crackling with an effervescent indie Americana spark.