Until recently, Over the Rhine was a band I was not too familiar with. I had heard good things about them over the years and had heard a song or two, but my knowledge was limited. In order to better acquaint myself with the band, I purchased Discount Fireworks, OTR's collection of songs taken from all the albums spanning their prolific career. What I found was a true diamond in the rough, a band whose members are overflowing with talent. Needless to say, I was highly anticipating The Trumpet Child, OTR's latest offering, and I am happy to say it did not disappoint.
At the center of OTR is married couple Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. Throughout The Trumpet Child, the two work together to create memorable melodies and cheeky lyrics. The album begins with "I Don't Want to Waste Your Time," an honest confession in which Berquist sings, "I hope this night puts down deep roots. I hope we plant a seed. Cause I don't wanna waste your time with music you don't need." Berquist's voice is enchanting and is reminiscent of legends Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday as well as a touch of Fiona Apple ala Extraordinary Machine. OTR uses horns, strings, keys, and woodwinds among other things to create a mix of jazz, folk, alternative, and indie that is truly unique.
The songs on The Trumpet Child seem more upbeat than some of OTR's previous work. The music is smoky and sultry, especially the playful "Trouble" and the smooth "Desperate for Love." Each song carries its weight and none should be skipped.
Lyrically, the album is mostly about love and affection in the same vein as the biblical book, Song of Solomon. Some may find a few of the songs a bit suggestive, but if taken in the marriage context they are beautiful expressions of love. The band also shows its lighter side on the ode to Tom Waits, "Don't Wait for Tom," in which Detweiler lends his voice for some spoken word fun. "If a Song Could be President" touches on politics, wistfully imagining what it would be like if the government were made of up songs and songwriters. Those wondering about the band's faith need look no further than the title track in which Berquist sings a haunting song about Jesus.
Over the Rhine is a flash of lightening in an industry covered in clouds. Their songwriting and execution is flawless, and The Trumpet Child offers further proof of this. The album is smart, sassy, and - dare I say it on a Christian website - sexy. Those looking for a superior listening experience should do themselves a favor and check out Over the Rhine. The band should be huge, and why they are still under the radar is truly a mystery.- Review date: 8/31/07, written by Laura Nunnery
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