As a band, Over the Rhine continues to go deep where others would opt for wider reach or anthemic heights. To call them an ‘emo’ band is simply to choose a category that misses the mark. They are one of those bands that I enjoy throwing on the CD player when guests are over after the dinner dishes are cleared off the table and waiting for the “Hey… who is THIS you put on?” They are people you want to get to know.
From their early independent releases to their classic Good Dog Bad Dog and through to the grand 2 CD release Ohio in , they have been true to their mantra – ‘Quiet music should be played loud’. After touring ‘Ohio’, Over the Rhine (or more specifically husband and wife duo Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler) needed to regroup – not only to reflect on where their art was going… but their marriage as well. As Linford has written on the groups website:
“a few months into our national tour, Karin and I realized that although good things were happening with our music, there was just very little energy or creativity or time left over for our marriage, and it was taking a toll on us. I think we had to learn that putting a long-term relationship on autopilot indefinitely can be dangerous if not fatal. We decided we had to pull the plug on the tour and go home and figure out if being together was something we were still committed to.
“We opted to start over, reinvent our own relationship, dig deep and do the homework to see if we could make our marriage sing. We decided to redirect the same thought and energy that we had been putting into writing and performing, toward our life at home together. We prayed alot. Our friends prayed alot. It was the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for us. And hopefully, some of what we’ve learned has not only made us better people, but better songwriters as well.”
The result of their labors is one of their best recordings to date – Drunkard’s Prayer. The album was recorded in Karin and Linford’s living room and reflects the relaxed atmosphere and sonic warmth that can only be found at home when one discovers, akin to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, that we could always go home if we wished to. There is a consistent vibe of fragility and desire throughout each track – as if a wine glass has just been filled and set before someone you have longed to talk to but have lost the words along the way. Perhaps this is not merely a metaphor, given that Linford said in relation to the song “Born” – “When we came home from the tour, we bought two cases of wine and decided we were going to put a bottle on the kitchen table every evening and start talking until nothing was left. The idea was not to get drunk, but to talk face to face deep into the night.” As Karin sings in “Born”, part of this discovery over the stilled glass of wine and the hope for connection is found in learning to ‘love without fear’:
Secret fears, the supernatural
Thank God for this new laughter
Thank God the joke’s on me
We’ve seen the landfill rainbow
We’ve seen the junkyard of love
Baby it’s no place for you and me
I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I’m gonna learn to love without fear
Anyone who has loved, lost love, and longed to love know how wrapped up love is with fear. With upright bass, piano, acoustic guitars, a few horns, a few subtle textures and Karin’s sublime voice, Over the Rhine’s new album Drunkard’s Prayer is served as a feast in one glass of Pinot Noir and offered as a toast to risking love in the face of fear– something that you settle into at twilight and find that fragile longing and silent anticipation can come home with us – especially when love opens the door.
Over The Rhine is offering a free Mp3 download of “Born” from “Drunkard’s Prayer” – that is mark of a great band…