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Cut Yourself a Switch

Thrill Jockey
thrill 119 - 2002

Cut Yourself A Switch marks the first solo album by Catherine Irwin, perhaps best known for her work in Freakwater. Catherine's songs about death and dying and dying and death compliment the Emmylou-esque offering of Freakwater's other principle singer songwriter Janet Bean. With Freakwater on temporary hiatus, it seemed a perfect time to lay down a batch of songs. Cut Yourself a Switch was recorded this past Spring in scenic Asheville, North Carolina by Bill Reynolds and Aaron Price who have handled production for a number of area bluegrass and old-timey outfits. Stripping things down to bare essentials, Catherine steps out as the primary voice, singing, playing guitar, banjo and bottleneck-guitar. She does get a little help from longtime Freakwater member Dave Gay and a few of Asheville's finest musicians. Cut Yourself a Switch owes more in tone and timbre to the high lonesome sound of folks like the Carter Family, Hazel Dickens and Roscoe Holcomb then to any contemporary country movement. Catherine's vocals have been compared to Sarah Carter, Hazel Dickens, and Melba Montgomery, and her songwriting has been praised for it's mixture of dark humor and dark humorless-nessmovin g between "word-play" style and straight forward storytelling.

From the front porch tone of the record's opening track, "Needle in the Haystack" to the lighthearted autobiographical "Dirty Little Snowman" to the early Elvis feel of "Swan Dive", the record covers a lot of territory without losing it's overall feel. It's rounded out with a handful of covers-most notable among them The Carter Family's "Will You Miss Me," and Johnny Paycheck's "The Only Hell My Momma Ever Raised". If to "Cut Yourself A Switch" is the punishment we're more than willing to commit the crime.



  • 1 Needle in a Haystack
  • 2 Cry Our Little Eyes Out
  • 3 Hex
  • 4 Dirty Little Snowman
  • 5 Power of My Love
  • 6 Will You Miss Me
  • 7 My Old Unlucky Home Far Away
  • 8 Swan Dive
  • 9 Don't We All Have the Right to Be Wrong
  • 10 Paint the River Red
  • 11 The Only Hell My Momma Ever Raised
  • 12 You Belong to Me

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