Even though they’ve been together for over fifteen years, I’m still a fairly new convert to the music of Over The Rhine.
The band formed in 1989 in Ohio and have released a steady catalogue of albums since. Fronting the group are the incredible talents of songwriter/vocalist Karin Bergquist and husband/pianist/bassist/songwriter, Linford Detweiler.
But describing their music isn’t easy, however, as their sound seems to cover many genres. From folk to rock to the more traditional to the more experimental, each album has a focus.
‘Mary’s Waltz’ is taken from their 1996 release, The Darkest Night Of The Year, which is a Christmas album of the most melancholy variety. Beautifully sung by Bergquist with only a piano and a violin, you can’t escape the story being told here, as somber as it is. And once you hear it, you won’t want to.
In 2001, Over The Rhine released Films For Radio, a stunning collection of more lushly textured songs, making it the band’s first foray into a more experimental sound. One such track, ‘Give Me Strength,’ a song originally co-written and recorded by Dido (although never officially released), is a unique sound for Over The Rhine, but as always, Bergquist’s voice weaves perfectly through its thick landscape.
The band’s tenth album (and most recent) is 2003’s Ohio, a 2-CD set which features Over The Rhine at the top of their game. Each disc exhibits a different side of the group and it is remarkable that the quality of an album this focused can be so consistent throughout.
‘Show Me’ is instantly likeable because it sounds so familiar; the kind of song you start singing along to even if you’re hearing it for the first time. Then there’s the emotionally powerful break-up song, ‘Suitcase,’ whose line ‘Why’d you love me in the first place?,’ although seemingly simple, somehow manages to get me every time with a sting of empathy.
For more of Over The Rhine, be sure to visit their official site which features extensive information on their album releases, ordering information, a fan forum and even more MP3s.