Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Over the Rhine: Nothing Is Innocent
Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

When this Cincinnati-based duo came to New Zealand 18 months ago I did an interview with them and noted they were receiving media interest more befitting Really Big Stars: lining up for a chat were the Herald; Kim Hill; the Listener and student radio; and there was an intimate gig before well-placed radio and retail people.

Not that they didn't deserve the attention, because over a series of albums they had carved out a nice slice of territory between alt.country, American folk and light blues.

They also had good, contemporary songs and in Karin Bergquist a singer whose voice could be melded into the many styles they were softly exploring.

This new album adds another and very interesting dimension: here in places they adopt suggestions of European cabaret on some songs, and there are touches of Tom Waits when he was in such a mode also. It opens with an instrumental flourish which evokes that old time American music, but quickly establishes itself with lyrics "I don't want to waste your time with music you don't need . . . I don't want to waste good wine if you won't stick around".

The reference to wine there is interesting -- later we hear of more wine, a black silk slip, garters -- and in many places this album has the feel of a wine-soaked cabaret club in Paris or old New Orleans (the second track Trouble sings of "your sexy cockatil hour stubble").

This despite lyrical concerns which allude to Iraq (Nothing is Innocent), a sense of hope despite the sad state of American politics (the slightly naff If A Song Could Be President), their Christianity (the title track) and a salute to the Tom Waits who used to sing those drunkard's blues about three decades ago (Don't Wait For Tom, which might have better stayed a live favourite).

They aren't averse to a little chiming country-pop (the gently rocking Entertaining Thoughts), or a suggestive ballad (Let's Spend the Day in Bed).

It would be fair to observe that after about 15 years and almost as many albums, Over The Rhine were due to move on from their alt.Americana and this album suggests they are doing that with considerable confidence, although the count of great songs isn't quite as high as on albums such as Ohio or Drunkards Prayer.

But while casual listeners won't be wooed and won, Over The Rhine devotees (and there are many) should be satisfied. Or very disappointed.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Bannerman: Dearly Departed (Bannerman/Rhythmethod)

Bannerman: Dearly Departed (Bannerman/Rhythmethod)

Recorded in the same furious sessions as his previous release The Dusty Dream Home (considered "an outstanding album" at Elsewhere in 2010, see here), this companion volume as it were... > Read more

Robert Plant: Carry Fire (Nonesuch/Warners)

Robert Plant: Carry Fire (Nonesuch/Warners)

It's salutary to think that Robert Plant has now been out of Led Zeppelin for more than three times longer than he was in it. It should mean that references to that former life should have... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

TONGAN NINJA a film by JASON STUTTER (DVD, 2004): And his name shall live forever, or at least for quite a while

TONGAN NINJA a film by JASON STUTTER (DVD, 2004): And his name shall live forever, or at least for quite a while

The legend of the Tongan ninja is so legendary that most people know it. But for those who missed it -- possibly in the shower when it came knocking -- it goes like this: young Tongan boy Sione is... > Read more

Joanna's pre- and post-hangover potato and chorizo melange

Joanna's pre- and post-hangover potato and chorizo melange

Joanna says "this goes really well with lots of red wine. The leftovers go really well with the hangover in the morning" so we can't say we aren't warned. And we've just learned a little... > Read more