Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender

RIYL: Lucinda Williams, Joni Mitchell

“The Laugh of Recognition” is the pretty, mellow song that begins the new Over the Rhine album, The Long Surrender. With layers of piano, echoed guitar and the drummer chugging along with brushes on the snare, the song sets the mood for this collection of lovely music from the underground folk rock band.

The songs of The Long Surrender are country-based, atmospheric treasures full of passion and featuring nothing but the finest musicianship from Karen Bergquist, her husband and band mate, Linford Detweiler, their producer Joe Henry, and the fine musicians he’s helped assemble for this album. Upon first listen, you may think the album could use a rocker or two, something a little upbeat, but repeated listens reveal that the album doesn’t need it. Bergquist sings with such conviction and the lyrics are so intricate that the songs demand attention rather than too much foot tapping.

What separates Over the Rhine’s music from so many of the singer/songwriter “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack crowd is Bergquist’s unique vocals.  With a slight slur in her voice, it recalls a little bit of Rickie Lee Jones and a touch of Lucinda Williams, who also duets with Bergquist on the track “Undamned.”

If you’ve never heard of or listened to Over the Rhine, The Long Surrender is an excellent starting point. After 15 years of albums and touring, it would be nice if these critical darlings would wider attention from the general public. (Great Speckled Dog 2011)

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