May 1, 2019
Over The Rhine – Love & Revelation
The 15th studio album of Cincinnati based duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist is an accomplished and crafted affair of 11 self penned songs. This unusual band name stems from their location in the town. Back in the day German immigrants lived across the Ohio River and this community was referred to as being ‘over the Rhine’.
As you might imagine with such a long career they’re well set in Ohio and surrounded by a fine selection of musicians who make this an easy Americana Folk listen with their sympathetic contributions. Despite their career longevity they’re new to me and a number of things immediately grab you: the quality of the songwriting and the beautiful, intimate and dreamy vocals of Bergquist. She did the “heavy lifting” on song composition, according to Detweiler, and her lead vocals with thoughtful stories bring to mind recent records by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gretchen Peters, Kim Richey or Rosanne Cash.
We open with “Los Lunas”, a song of lovers parting and the reflection on this trauma whilst on the road in New Mexico. Slow, atmospheric and layered with Greg Leisz’s lap steel guitar, this is an arresting start. It’s also a wonderful introduction to Bergquist’s expressive voice with a memorable melody delivered with pathos. “Let You Down” is a gentle ballad with exquisite vocal harmonies. Tasteful occasional flourishes from Bradley Meinerding on slide add to the beauty. “Broken Angels” showcases that voice again with some tender yet searing introspection: “I want to take a break from heartache, drive away from all the tears I’ve cried. I’m a wasteland down inside”. Piano and strings heighten the emotion. “Making Pictures” conflates her personal mental images with those taken by a camera. Detweiler’s piano provides a sparkling counterpoint to the vocal. “Rocking Chair” hits a 70s James Taylor groove with tasteful electric guitar over a shuffling beat. Images of kicking back are painted with this stout, yet unstable, piece of furniture.
“May God Love You (Like You’ve Never Been Loved)” is the duo’s take on today’s political realities. The poetic lyric explores their personal ruptured sensibilities. Hope apparently lies in faith. For all the sentiment this is a lilting and light affair that belies, maybe, their point.
You are in the company of a talented team. Everything about this record has a touch of class.