Listening to Scheherazade, Freakwater's first album in 9 years, is an immersive experience. Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Irwin, the band's founding duo, have worked together on and off for over 25 years. That shows in Scheherazade's rich tapestry of storytelling and music. I know it'll take me a few more months of listening to puzzle out most of the themes, but I wanted to write about the album now to encourage you to get your paws on it. Like the storyteller in the Arabian Nights, these songs have urgency -- as if Bean and Irwin's lives depended on telling these tales. On the other hand, they also have the seductive guile of someone who is confident in their ability to impress.
Freakwater works on dualities: as the pair trade vocals throughout the album, the songs are delivered on two levels -- the narrator's straightforward approach, and the background vocalist's primal, barely-controlled wails. The music itself chugs along as fairly straightforward roots, but every so often a lyric will appear out of nowhere that snatches your breath away. Like any good story, Freakwater takes us down familiar paths, always surprising us with twists that keep the tale fresh.
Scheherazade -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Bloodshot Records