- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Mar
- I Want You to Be My Love
- Drunkard's Prayer
- Hush Now (Stella's Tarantella)
- Lookin' Forward
- Little Did I Know
- Who Will Guard the Door
- My Funny Valentine
Over the Rhine's humble-yet-illustrious career has earned them widespread critical acclaim and a passionate following, but it almost ended in 2003 while the husband-wife duo was on tour for their previous double-disc release, Ohio. A friend who saw them in concert with me at that time noted that they seemed a little sad and tired, despite their knockout performance. Sure enough, a few days later, they canceled the rest of the tour. They publicly cited burnout, but privately, lead singer Karin Bergquist and keyboardist Linford Detweiler realized their marriage was in trouble.
"There was very little energy or creativity or time left over for our marriage, and it was taking a toll," Detweiler said recently. "We had to learn that putting a long-term relationship on autopilot indefinitely can be dangerous. … We opted to start over, reinvent our own relationship, and … redirect the same thought and energy that we had been putting into writing and performing, toward our life at home together. We prayed a lot. Our friends prayed a lot. It was the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for us. And hopefully, some of what we've learned has not only made us better people, but better songwriters."
It's refreshing to see a talented act like OTR do the right thing by putting their marriage ahead of their music. Now the couple says their nine-year marriage is stronger than ever, with hopes of starting a family soon. In the wake of all this honesty and soul searching, Over the Rhine yields what could well be their most personal collection of songs.
The title cut on
That blending of intimacy and spirituality has endeared OTR to fans over the years, but
This very mellow disc, with its scarce percussion and occasionally lengthy and quiet instrumental jams, won't draw everyone in. But those who like the idea of fusing folk, jazz, and pop—Sarah McLachlan meets Norah Jones with hints of Mindy Smith—will find a lot to love. The subdued, jazzy confessional "Little Did I Know" will appeal to Jones' fans especially, while hinting at just how close Bergquist and Detweiler came to splitting apart. "Spark," meanwhile, is perhaps the most radio-friendly on the album—a McLachlan-styled pop arrangement explaining how love and marriage take great effort: "Obsessions with self-preservation faded when I threw my fear away/It's not a thing you can imagine/You either lose your fear or spend your life with one foot in the grave/Is God the last romantic?"
Many of the songs pertain directly to the couple's relationship—the playful and romantic "Hush Now" reveals two people deeply in love, and the beautiful cover of "My Funny Valentine" is to die for. But other cuts like "I Want You to Be My Love" are written more generally. Though surely written with the marital context in mind, it can just as easily be viewed in the context of any loving relationship, including ours with Christ: "I want you to be my love/'Cause I want you, I know all you've been through."
Detweiler continues to prove himself a deft keyboardist, and Bergquist remains one of the most passionate and beautiful voices on the planet. This may be the fourth-best album in Over the Rhine's discography, but