I have to credit my friend, Josh Brewer, for a lot of the music I listen to these days. He has turned me on to some amazing singer-songwriters; I was never much of a radio listener or concertgoer in college, so I had a lot of catching up to do in my twenties. Josh has introduced me to such amazing musicians/bands as Pierce Pettis, David Wilcox, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Son Volt, Ray Lamontagne, Anaïs Mitchell, Wilco and Denison Witmer (and I’m sure some of these will show up in their own Wednesday slot before the year is over). However, one of the bands I cherish most, thanks to him, is a little group called Over the Rhine. They have been around for a while, but have really begun to draw a larger fan base since Paste magazine praised their magnum opus, Ohio, by giving it five stars. The core of Over the Rhine is the husband-wife duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. They have consistently created some of the most exquisite and intelligent music over the past ten years, including such amazing albums as Drunkard’s Prayer and The Trumpet Child.
What makes Over the Rhine’s music so arresting is how delicate each song seems to touch the ear. Whether given a beat and driven by a bluesy guitar, or flowing along to a gentle piano melody, their jazz/folk/blues/classical sound pours from the speaker like audible adornment, filling the room and making it a more beautiful, restful place than it was in silence. Karin’s vocals are as satisfying as a good, dry wine, and their blended instrumentation is inspired. Their music fits almost any occasion, from road trips to dinner parties, background music at work or as a centerpiece for a relaxing evening at home. And it is a privileged person who has the opportunity to see them live (Ash Wednesday 2007 at the Mucky Duck in Houston, a Guinness in hand and “I’m on a Roll” coming from the little stage – a concert memory I’ll never forget).
If you are interested in checking out Over the Rhine, I suggest The Trumpet Child – I believe it has the most compelling and radio-friendly songs, though I am also thoroughly enjoying their newest release, The Long Surrender (especially the haunting “Only God Can Save Us Now”). Or you could go right to their masterpiece, Ohio, a two-disc epic with gem after shining gem – it’s like a treasure chest that can sing.
In the meantime, here’s the opening song from The Trumpet Child, live: