End Time

Thrill Jockey
thrill 066 - 1999
End Time is the sixth record by Freakwater. The twelve songs that comprise End Time were recorded at Chicago’s Uber Studios and offer a departure from Freakwater’s traditionally minimalist approach to arrangements and composition. An enhanced orchestrated context was rendered possible by the addition of Steve Goulding (Mekons, Waco Bros.) on drums and Eric Heywood (Sun Volt, Richard Buckner) on guitar and peddle steel to Freakwater’s core of Catherine Ann Irwin, Janet Beveridge Bean and David Wayne Gay. Accompanied by these notable additions, Freakwater was able to lay down a traditional country foundation that allow the songs on End Time to flow with a groove and emerge with a more polished, yet still organic sound. This foundation was augmented further by strings arranged and conducted by New York/Chicago avant-jazz luminary Fred Lonberg-Holm and performed by a selection of players with collective experience ranging from the Vandermark 5 and Peter Brötzmann to Smog and Simon Joyner. The arrangements are enriched by Highway 61-style Hammond organ and grand piano.

While the song writing on End Time retains Freakwater’s focus on heartache and death, this album features their most personal and reflective work to date. Additionally, upbeat songs like Queen Bee and Dog Gone Wrong revel in smart lyrical twists while maintaining their footing in the classic tradition established by Roger Miller. Coupled with ambitious and fully developed production, the songwriting on End Time ranges from Honky Tonk ("All Life Long") to dark ("Cloak of Frogs") and grandeur ("When the leaves begin to fall"). On End Time their depth goes beyond category.