Friday, December 31, 2010

Over the Rhine - The Long Surrender

The Long Surrender
Artist: Over the Rhine
Label: Great Speckled Dog
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Duration: 13 tracks, 55:34

For those unacquainted with Over the Rhine (OtR) The Long Surrender is a soft, wonderful adventure. For the veteran this album is that and more. This collection of songs is reminiscent of Drunkards Prayer and most of their double CD Ohio. The album showcases the piano of Linford Detweiler, the vocals of Karin Bergquist, and the song writing of both. Made possible with the financial support of fans, this offering injects saxophone highlighting the haunting melodies always apparent in OTR music. Also, rare duets are found on this LP. Mixing is crisp and clear, production by Joe Henry is artistic and very well done.

The Long Surrender is mainly a collection of ballads telling of life’s tales in a beautiful, artful way. “The Laugh of Recognition” has a gypsy melody with soft, sensuous lyrics. The full emotion and velocity of Bergquist’s vocals can be found on “Rave On”. “Infamous Love Song” harkens back to earlier songs with haunting lyrics ‘Baby, our love song must survive’ accompanied by Detweiler’s signature piano. Bergquist shines in a familiar way with “Only God Can Save Us Now” with backing chorus and underlying acoustic guitar. Beyond the ballads, “The King Knows How” rocks with a reference to the memory of Elvis Presley’s offerings. “All My Favorite People” is a wonderful song of faith, friends, and our times supported by the soft, languid vocals of Bergquist, Detweiler’s rambling blues piano, and well seasoned with a spattering of sax and guitar. Finally, the all too short instrumental “Unspoken” ceremoniously concludes a great, great offering by OtR.

While The Long Surrender is a wonderful, soulful additional to OtR’s catalogue filled with gems, many fans will hope for the next album to again offer the off-beat stories of life with greater emphasis on guitar and percussion. Whether laying out a smooth, soul-filled ballad or romping to a frolicking melody, Over The Rhine is and always has been about quality underpinned by their faith, with a sound all their own which only the richness of time spent together over years of refinement can offer.

SS Mertens

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