Over the Rhine: We Try to be Tender with All of Our Might
Reposted from Now This Sound Is Brave.
A confession: this is the first time I’ve really listened to new Over the Rhine material in over a decade. When I first heard OtR, they were a four-piece (with Ric Hordinski on guitar and Brian Kelley on drums), Linford Detweiler had long hair, Karin Berquist was shy and Karin and Linford were not yet married. My ex and I were going to a show to see the Choir, and as we stood in line outside the club before doors opened, we fell into conversation with others in line that went something like:
Us: Who are Over the Rhine?
Several other people in line: Who are the Choir?
And by the end of the show, I was also asking “Who are the Choir?” having fallen in love with the charming four-piece from Cincinnati who opened for the Choir. Over the next few years, OtR’s music became integral to my marriage as we travelled to several shows, adopted “Paul and Virginia” as one of “our songs” and became friendly enough with Karin and Linford that, before we moved to California, we spent a pleasant afternoon with them in Cincinnati. Their 1997 release Besides was the last OtR album I spent any considerable time with before drifting away (not just from them but from most new music in general).
The first thing that stood out to me upon listening to their new album, The Long Surrender, was how Karin’s voice has become a confident, unique instrument. While always capable of great depth and power, self-consciousness seemed to keep her from using that power more than sparingly. Hesitancy is clearly no longer an issue.
Over the Rhine’s musical arrangements have gained confidence, as well. While the jangly, sepia-toned sound of those early songs still remains at the core, that sound is now plumped with strong jazz, classical and country tones, even dipping into some classic R&B, soul and gospel at times.
The stand-out song for me is the torchy epic, “Infamous Love Song”, mining the smoky vein previously tapped with 1994’s “My Love is a Fever”. The way Karin’s voice warmly, languidly oozes over the words, it’s easy to imagine that this is the kind of song she was born to sing. Other stand-outs are “Undamned” in which Karin’s sweet voice pairs companionably with Lucinda Williams’ scratchier one, “The King Knows How” with its hip-grooving, deep bassline, “Rave On” with its building intensity and the heartbreaker of an opener “The Laugh of Recognition”.
While early OtR albums called up visions of rainy, late-summer afternoons, The Long Surrender is a late night groove, dark and close. Put it on, turn the lights down and pour a glass of bourbon…
The Long Surender, produced by Joe Henry, drops February 8, and Over the Rhine will begin touring in support of the album in March (with a February 16 date at the Folk Alliance in Memphis, Tennessee).
March 25 – Boston, MA @ The Red Room @ Café 939 (Berklee)
March 26 – New York, NY @ Highline Ballroom
March 27 – Alexandria, VA @ Birchmere Club
March 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
April 1 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Small’s
April 2 – Akron, OH @ Musica
April 5 – Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
April 7 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
April 8 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
April 9 – Madison, WI @ Majestic Theater
April 10 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center