Freakwater‘s latest release Scheherazade is a haunting Neo-Americana trip. While using all the usual instruments of Americana like banjo, double-bass, violin, and acoustic guitar, the lyrical content is nothing that you would usually expect to hear out this genre. It flows as if the lyrics were written without the specifics of the song affecting them. It’s gives each song a feeling that these words “had” to be written, thus making their existence much more important.
Catherine and Janet’s harmonies are also something unique to Freakwater. They harmonize throughout the majority of every song, although almost never an entire song. Their harmonies have a similar feeling as the words. Janet and Catherine feel like they are singing their parts completely separate with their own emotions, and they just happen to work great together. It’s reminiscent of the harmonies in “The Band,” everyone singing is a lead singer.
“Bolshevik and Bollweevil” is a standout track on the album. While the title of the song sends the brain wondering about what topics this song could cover, the song is one of Freakwater’s most straight-forward. It also features an insanely catchy hook when they sing “I got a letter today, come on home if you can find it, ’cause the farm has blown away.” It’s wildly emotional in a “tear in my beer” sort of way.
Another catchy track on the album is the opener, “What People Want.” It has the locomotive rhythm that one often finds in an artist like “Johnny Cash,” but this rhythm is eerily reserved. The ominous gloom that is persistent in this song is multiplied when Janet and Catherine belt out, “They threw her body down a well!” It’s spine-tingling.
Scherezade is a fitting name for this album as it comes from a Persian queen who is known as the storyteller of “One Thousand and One Nights.” The album that bears this queens name is an accomplished storytelling feat in itself. Freakwater are an uncommon sort of Americana, and that’s the best kind.