Album Reviews

Album Review: Over The Rhine - Love & Revelation (Great Speckled Dog)

Roger Bowie

It’s a great shame we haven’t seen more of Over the Rhine here in New Zealand. Pianist/guitarist/bassist Linford Detweiler credits his first visit, with an unknown (to the writer) band at an unknown festival near Wellington, as the musical epiphany that led to a life in music.

It was raining. Detweiler thought the gig would be cancelled, but the audience stayed. So, the band played. He understood the power of a song. People will stand in the rain for a song.

Since then they have only been here as part of Cowboy Junkies at Sweetwaters in 1999, and as themselves for the Bay of Islands Festival in 2006. But, unless I’m mistaken, they haven’t been back, while continuing to produce albums of singular consistency, from their farm outside Cincinnati, Ohio, called “Nowhere” (which really means Now Here).

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... meandering through loss, love, pain, splendour, wonder, comfort, simplicity and faith, a smorgasbord of emotional influences which as a total offering, reflect the soothing and healing nature of their music.

Linford and his musical and life partner Karen Bergquist have been married for twenty-two years (“Emotionally, relationships are coin operated. They require lots of daily deposits”, said Linford in a 2008 interview). They share songwriting duties as well as editing each other’s efforts in roughly 1/3 equal ways. But it’s not readily obvious, in a Lennon McCartney way, who is actually leading and who is editing, unless, as is the case with this album, they tell you (in the pre-release publicity) that Karen does most of the heavy lifting in terms of songwriting. Maybe, also, when Detweiler takes over the vocals. But mostly, they sound just like “Over the Rhine”, folky, ballady, piano and acoustic driven Americana. A thirty-year recipe built from common ancestral heritage (German immigrant stock), a deeply Christian upbringing and a concomitant belief in the power of words in music.

Speaking of the latter, in 2007 they released an album called The Trumpet Child, and on it is a song called If A Song could be President which includes the lines :
“John Prine would run the FBI, all the criminals would laugh and cry.”

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The eleven songs on Love & Revelation, their fifteenth album, are not so light-hearted... meandering through loss, love, pain, splendour, wonder, comfort, simplicity and faith, a smorgasbord of emotional influences which as a total offering, reflect the soothing and healing nature of their music.

As such, the individual songs don’t stand out as much as blend into a total offering, so I won’t bother the reader with any individual mentions. They are all so good!!

Joe Henry doesn’t produce this album as he has done in the past. But he does influence it, beginning with the album title (and song), which derives from his habit of signing off written notes with ‘Love and Revelation’; and with the band, a star-studded cast most of whom are part of his stable (and of course others). People like Jay Bellerose from Nashville on drums (plays for everybody), Greg Seisz on guitar (the same) and Patrick Warren on keyboards, joining Jennifer Condos on bass and regular “Rhiner” Bradley Meinerding, also on guitar and mandolin.

A beautiful album.

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If you haven’t heard Over the Rhine, buy this album, and then go back and find some more. If you love Over the Rhine, buy this one, you won’t be disappointed.

Out this Friday at Southbound, Marbecks and JB Hi-Fi in NZ. 

Click here to stream or buy
Released: 15 Mar 2019

Written By: Roger Bowie Roger Bowie has been collecting music since 1964, starting with 45 rpm singles, and then building an LP and CD collection from 1970. 1.8 per week since then. Not a vast collection, but eclectic and occasionally obscure. Roger is a big Americana fan, and regularly attends AmericanaFest in Nashville, held every September. Also, he once played golf with Alice Cooper...

What people are saying

  • Jamie Macphail - 24 months ago

    They were also at The New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2006! I saw them twice, one performance being a very cool free outdoor show at a park in Upper Hutt.
  • Anya McKee - 24 months ago

    Their sound and their soul is just what we need right now. I'd cross the country to hear OTR.