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Album review: Over the Rhine's 'The Long Surrender'

February 8, 2011 |  3:28 pm

Overtherhine Over the Rhine is the Ohio indie husband-wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, who’ve been making gorgeous records for a couple of decades that sound like they sprung from another time.

On their new one, they’ve found a soulmate in producer Joe Henry, who bathes their ethereal musical excursions in the sonic equivalent of a thick buffalo hide rug spread over an oak floor before a stone fireplace. Bergquist’s voice has the old-soul quality of a seasoned blues singer, and she’s complemented expertly in “Undamned” by that other great, white female blues singer of our time, Lucinda Williams.

Something’s slipping away, tantalizingly out of reach or just coming within one’s grasp in songs whose lyrics are sculpted with poetic attention to imagery that’s as evocative as it is ambiguous. “Everybody has a dream that they will never own,” Bergquist sings enigmatically in the opening track, “The Laugh of Recognition.” Detweiler’s “Infamous Love Song” comes off like a soliloquy, a graceful testament to the passion and commitment necessary to keep love alive.

One photo in the album artwork shows the couple standing in a sunny field of blooming flowers; another captures a thick grove of woods in which the light struggles to peek through. Over the Rhine expertly explores those contrasting moods in a work as exquisitely beautiful as Van Morrison’s most graceful efforts.

-- Randy Lewis

Over the Rhine
“The Long Surrender”
(Great Speckled Dog)
Four stars (out of four)

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