Ben’s Brilliant Best Albums of the 1990s. No. 81. Freakwater – Old Paint

A gift from a friend (hello Dan) who reviewed it for his university magazine and found it just a little bit too country. It’s quite country. It’s not exactly Merle Haggard or anything. This was a long time ago. Tastes mellow. He might even like the album now. He might even like Merle Haggard. Why not? Merle Haggard is…

Actually, I don’t know what Merle Haggard is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Merle Haggard. I don’t really know where I got Merle Haggard from. Subconsciouses, eh? Always up to mischief. Give me a minute to look up Merle Haggard on YouTube…

Yeah, he’s good at what he does and that. It’s not my sort of thing, but clearly he’s a talented person.

I’ll stop saying Merle Haggard now.

It does sound good though, doesn’t it? Merle Haggard? It’s a proper country name. “You gon finish up them whisky biskers, Merle?” another cowboy might ask Merle Haggard.

Actually, give me a minute to just look up ‘whisky biskers’ on Wikipedia…

As I suspected, whisky biskers aren’t a thing. I thought they sounded like the sort of thing cowboys might eat round a campfire or something but no, they are just something my brain made up when I wasn’t looking, which is fine, obviously.

Anyway, Freakwater. There have been about a dozen members over the years but, at the risk of upsetting some of those said band members, they are mostly all about lead vocalists Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin. Sometimes one of them sings. Sometimes they both sing together. They harmonise well. They sound good together. And, strictly speaking, their music is Appalachian, not country. I think.

Old Paint is an album that I have listened to more as I have gotten older. That’s probably more a reflection on me than the album and as such not really worth mentioning but I did just do two hundred words on Merle Haggard and whisky biskers so it is probably a bit late to save this review now anyway. Ignore the bits you don’t like. I’m just going to go where the words take me. No matter the cost.

If I had to some up what defines Old Paint it might be its non-showy sadness (which is a trick that country can pull off very nicely when it chooses to). That and those voices combining to create something magical.

If you haven’t heard Old Paint, you could do a lot worse than to give Waitress Song a listen to get an idea of what I’m grasping at. Or listen to the whole album. It’s very good. You might like it.

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