Despite their alternative rock pedigree and their home on a label better known for experimental music, Freakwater was one of the most traditionally grounded bands on the alternative country scene. Singers/guitarists/songwriters Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin mix original material (with a contemporary lyrical perspective) and traditional covers, all done in a spare, acoustic country-folk style with close vocal harmonies. Their instrumentation often features string band staples like steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and dobro, and the strong Appalachian overtones that result have often drawn the duo comparisons to the Carter Family. Freakwater originally formed in Louisville, KY, as an informal partnership; both Irwin and Bean had played in local punk bands, became roommates in 1982, and first performed together publicly the year afterward. Meanwhile, Bean co-founded the noisy, Neil Young-influenced alt-rock band Eleventh Dream Day with boyfriend and future husband Rick Rizzo, serving as the group's drummer; they soon moved to Chicago, and spent the late '80s and early '90s crafting a series of underappreciated, critically acclaimed albums. Bean and Irwin continued to perform together, however, on an informal basis, and in 1988 were approached by Amoeba label head Keith Holland about recording.