Over the Rhine (OTR) is a wonderful Ohio-based Americana/folk music band, consisting of a husband-and-wife team: Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist.
Their first three albums, Till We Have Faces, Patience, and Eve are forgettable, but in 1996 they released Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings. This album has a few gems, like All I Need Is Everything:
Other tracks on that album like Etcetera Whatever and Everyman’s Daughter showcase OTR’s fantastic lyrics and Karin’s voice.
In ’96 they also released a Christmas album, The Darkest Night of the Year, and a few songs like Thank You My Angel and Mary’s Waltz shine.
Films For Radio came out in 2001, and like Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings, it contains a few really good tracks, like this one: The World Can Wait.
Goodbye (This Is Not Goodbye) and Moth are also quite good.
In 2003, OTR released a double album entitled Ohio. Disc 1 contains the most gems including B.P.D., What I’ll Remember Most, Show Me, Ohio, Suitcase, and Anything At All; however, my favorite song, Long Lost Brother, is on Disc 2. The lyrics on this track, as on so many OTR songs, are superb:
I loved you like a long lost brother
On a bad day maybe I thought, why bother
I’ve seldom seen so much anger in a face
I wanna do better
I wanna try harder
I wanna believe down to the letter
Jesus and Mary
Can you carry us
across this ocean
Into the arms of forgiveness?
Disc 2 also contains a beautiful, sad track called She.
Drunkard’s Prayer, OTR’s 2005 album is just as good as Ohio. The title track is amazing as are I Want You To Be My Love, Born, Bluer, Spark, Lookin’ Forward, and Little Did I Know. Here’s the title track:
Unfortunately, starting in 2006 with the Christmas album Snow Angels, Karin adopted a new slurring style and started pronouncing most of her s’s as “sh” (think Jodie Foster); this is hard to take in anything but small doses. Nevertheless, that album contained a few good Christmas songs: All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue and Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming).
The Trumpet Child in 2007 gives us the great lyrics we expect from OTR but most of the tunes are subpar and probably the only track worth mentioning on that album is a fun song called Let’s Spend the Day in Bed.
Over the Rhine’s album The Long Surrender was released in 2011 on the band’s own label; however, it was produced by Joe Henry, and contains a duet with Lucinda Williams. Thankfully, Karin’s ‘schlurring’ has mostly disappeared and we now get a more bluesy, jazzy sound with more vocal fry (similar to Lucinda Williams’ style). The Laugh of Recognition, Oh Yeah By the Way, and All My Favorite People are pretty good.
The double album Meet Me at the Edge of the World was released in 2013. This album was also produced by Joe Henry, and Aimee Mann appears as a special guest vocalist on one of the tracks. Sadly, most of the songs on this album are forgettable, although Sacred Ground is pretty good.
In 2014, OTR released another Christmas album, Blood Oranges In The Snow, which is probably not worth buying, although it does contain a cover of Merle Haggard’s If We Make It Through December.
OTR’s latest is last year’s Love & Revelation. This album’s slow, quiet pace makes it great for winding down before bed, and Karin’s style is more natural here, and as a result more beautiful. There really aren’t a couple standout tracks here like you’d find on most albums. Instead, there are eleven beautiful, slow, sad songs that flow into one another creating a beautiful melancholy. Here’s Let You Down:
OTR also does a great live version of Neil Young’s Helpless on their album The Cutting Room Floor and a terrific version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.