Never mind the fact that they named their debut album Feels Like the Third Time, Freakwater’s
first recording, originally released in 1993, boasted an unerring sense of
familiarity within a rustic country template. Replete with hillbilly harmonies,
fiddles and a convincing front porch sway, it established them as Americana auteurs back when
the genre was in first flush and authentic old school sounds were well outside
Regardless, the band pulls off their Conway Twitty and Woody
Guthrie covers (“You’ve Never Been This Far Before” and “Put My Little Shoes,”
respectively) with an impressive aplomb and even succeeds in making Nick Lowe’s
lilting “You Make Me” sound like a rural original. Whether it’s the plaintive
wail accompanying “Dream Girl,” the plea for redemption
on the apocalyptic ballad “Pale
Horse,” the woozy sprawl of “My Old Drunk Friend,” or the mournful croon winding
through “Sleeping on Hold” and the anything-but “Forgettable Song,” Freakwater
cast themselves in sepia tones and vintage tomes.
It’s worth noting as
a historical footnote that the original vinyl pressings are long out of print,
thanks to a fire at the record plant that prohibited the production of all but
the original orders. Happily then, Thrill Jockey opted
to press a newly re-mastered batch of the vinyl version just in time for this
year’s Record Store Day, complete with the original cover art and a free download.
As a result, Feels Like the Third Time feels more like a welcome return.
Make Me,” “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” “Forgettable Song” LEE ZIMMERMAN