The brand of country music lauded at this month's Country Music Association awards doesn't have much to do with the music's origins; to understate the situation considerably, the line between Hank Williams and Keith Urban is far from straight. The same can be said of Freakwater, whose co-founder, Janet Beveridge Bean, also helped launch Eleventh Dream Day, a guitar-racket band that no one would mistake for the Blue Grass Boys. Yet Bean and partner Catherine Ann Irwin (currently supplemented by bassist Dave Gay) understand country's rudiments far better than many of their mainstream peers. While Thinking of You, a new disc on the Thrill Jockey imprint, features the occasional rock touch, including a lacerating guitar solo on "Buckets of Oil," the CD is anchored by plaintive vocals, frequently mournful lyrics and arrangements that capture the spirit of the style and set it aglow. Freakwater, accompanied at the Bluebird by the Zincs, has a smaller chance of winning a CMA trophy than you do, but that hardly matters. The group's music is the real prize.
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