Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

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Over the Rhine: All My Favourite People
Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret sounding alt.country (with exceptional players such as steel guitarist Greg Leisz) in songs of uncertainty and reassurance, and torch ballads of love lost.

Singer Karin Bergquist has seldom sounded so assured and hints at Billie Holiday (the rather too wordy Infamous Love Song) as much as cool cabaret-noir. The rollicking, word-spilling Rave On (from the B.H. Fairchild poem) about kids deliberately crashing a car to test themselves as Buddy Holly plays is unlike anything they've done previously; There's a Bluebird in My Heart is an instantly familiar bluesy, nightclub piano ballad; and Oh Yeah By the Way could be a refined Nick Lowe ballad about “the self-inflicted wounds [of love] that made you what you are”.

All My Favourite People (“are broken, believe me my heart should know”) could have come from Tom Waits in his slurry, late 70s period when he would write of “poets working the graveyard shift”. Waits is a touchstone here (although more refined and melodic) and in this context even the aching Undamned – where Bergquist trades lines with Lucinda Williams – is put in the shade.

Quite something.

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