Freakwater Still Rules, 30 Years Later

Hear "Number One with a Bullet," from the alt-country stars' long-awaited new album.

Freakwater Still Rules, 30 Years Later   Edward Neary

Very legendary alt-country outfit Freakwater returns after a long, cold decade-plus on February 5 with their seventh album, Scheherazade, their first LP for Bloodshot Records.

Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin—the grit and glitter of dual lead vocalists—have played in plenty of other bands over the past 30 years, and released stellar solo albums too, but, to each his own, and for me they’re at their best making holy dissonance together with Freakwater.

For the premiere of “Number One with a Bullet,” I asked the prolific, multiple-band-leading Bean about what brings her back to this one. “There is no comparison to Freakwater,” she explained over email. “ No one else that I can think of, in the world of country or Americana or whatever you want to call it, have put two voices so disparate in tonality and style together. No one else is traveling that bizarre path of two people singing together, yet, what is supposed to be the harmony vocal is doing some sort of melody line as well. No one's doing it because it's just not supposed to be done, but that's what I love about what we do.

“The result of that irreverence to the craft is the idiosyncratic way our voices come together. At once we can be mournful yet severe, lilting but craggy. rueful while bitter. It's not that one voice takes one of those roles and the other takes another. It's more the combination creates this third voice that lives in an all together different realm. That is what always brings me back to Freakwater.”

There's a massive Freakwater tour across the U.S. kicking off on February 10.

Freakwater Still Rules, 30 Years Later