Freakwater, End Time
The first Freakwater album to feature all original compositions (no Woody Guthrie covers in sight!), End Time takes another modest step into the future for these Louisville, Kentucky traditionalists. Their music dramatically blends Appalachian country harmonies, Nashville pedal steel and now drums and organ to flesh out an almost contemporary sound — almost, because no matter how they twist their voices, Eleventh Dream Day's Janet Bean and friend Catherine Irwin still sound gloriously old-fashioned. The songs tread dangerously close to the bloated lengths of contemporary rock tunes (five are over five minutes and none are under three), but the music's subtle web (the desert drone of "Cloak of Frogs") and the ladies 'increased vocal confidence justify the additional time. Besides, they can still strip it down to bare dobro if need be ("Sick, Sick, Sick"). If only modern country could find a way to negotiate the trade-offs between tradition and modernity with such aplomb.