JANET BEAN AND THE CONCERTINA WIRE Dragging Wonder Lake (Thrill Jockey) Rating: NN
Not to be outdone by her extracurricular-dabbling Freakwater sidekick Catherine Irwin, Janet Bean tries to satisfy her art-song jones with the Concertina Wire on Dragging Wonder Lake. Although she fancies herself a sort of Brigitte Fontaine in cowboy boots, it's all a little too self-consciously "avant." The purposefully squirrely synth fills seem to be tacked on as an afterthought. It comes as no great shock that the best songs here sound like Freakwater outtakes. Unfortunately, Bean doesn't have the pipes to carry the tunes with weaker arrangements. If Bean and Irwin are half as smart as they imagine, they'll continue their quaint little Freakwater cottage industry until Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard reunite and put them out of business.