Freakwater is propelled by what has been called “acerbic harmonies”, a wrenching but wonderful sound that goes straight back to Sara and Maybelle Carter’s original prescription: Keep it plaintive, rough, and real. (The pleasure of listening to Catherine & Janet sing is sort of like the pleasure that can be taken from from weeping.) Lyrically, however, Freakwater departs from the morality & themes of traditional country music. Though they may have excommunicated themselves from country’s songbooks, Freakwater’s work still has plenty of appeal to anybody who’s suffered or has an large axe to grind; that is, most everybody.
Freakwater knows what must be the most fruitful long-distance relationship ever: Three hundred miles of interstate have lain between Janet and Catherine, the main creative forces of the band, since soon after Freakwater’s inception.
TOGETHER, Janet and Catherine create the balance and tension that make Freakwater possibly the most important country act of their time, independent of the pitfalls and the conscious choices that have kept them from becoming very well-known. Acknowledged or ignored, they may be the greatest living bearers of the Carter Family legacy. Catherine says “the real magic of Freakwater arises from the underlying competition between Janet and me.” (Now Magazine) Janet believes they “have a fundamental understanding of each other on an emotional level, outside of the band. Through this understanding we sort of cling to each other, afraid that we will not find that someone else who does.” (Salon)
Freakwater are iconoclasts who have no use for labels: “I’m not proud so much that we pre-date the term alternative country,” Janet says, “but I am proud that we still exist.” (countrystandardtime.com) “Ultimately, I don’t care about the integrity of music at the commercial level. I care about what I do as a musician and what Freakwater does as a band, and other than that I am not interested in being a torch holder for any particular musical ethos.” (hour.ca) “We don’t really dwell on (the ‘alt-country’ label),” Catherine adds, “We get called ‘alt-country,’ but it doesn’t affect what we do it’s just a bin that our records get put into at the record store.” (citizen-times.com)
Ultimately, theirs is a personal, not commercial, enterprise. Catherine says, “Anything (good) that happens is something we never really tried for, so we’re always coming out ahead.” (citizen-times.com) “We never have plans for the future,” says Janet. “I would say that not having a plan is our only plan. It will be interesting to see how the band plays out, what people think of us, and where we fit in the grand scheme of things. I’ll be interested to see just where we are in 30 years, and it would be great if we’re still playing then.” (metropulse.com)