Janet Bean and The Concertina Wire CD review [Thrill Jockey]

Music Reviews
Janet Bean and The Concertina Wire CD review [Thrill Jockey]
Apr 8, 2003, 22:12


Wives and girlfriends hate Freakwater, or at least they should. The combination of Catherine Irwin and Janet Beveridge Bean's voices, each detailing the darkness and doubt of everyday life through an Appalachian haze equal parts sultry and sincere is enough to warm the cockles of even the hardest of indie rock hearts. With Dragging Wonder Lake, Bean, also a member of the criminally underappreciated Eleventh Dream Day, follows partner Irwin's example and releases an album under her own name, teaming up with a crack team of backup musicians, including Fred Lonberg-Holm, who call themselves The Concertina Wire.

Produced by John McEntire, Dragging Wonder Lake is equal parts forlorn balladry and sharp seventies rock. The sassy “Cutters, Dealers, Cheaters” showcases Bean's flawless vibrato, while the cover of Randy Newman's “The God Song” bests the original. Bean's brazen cover of Neil Young's “Soldier” is rife with a piano playing on its last legs, sounding like Thelonious Monk sitting in with Patti Page for a version of “Gloomy Sunday.” Several numbers feature rave-ups worthy of The Sadies, while others, such as “Spout of Spite,” feature yearning pedal steel, sure to please fans of Freakwater's more mournful moments. It's these kinds of risks that make Dragging Wonder Lake so worthwhile, and such a clear example of talent that is equal to the sum of its parts. Well done. [Thrill Jockey]

-James Jackson Toth

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