Over The Rhine is Out of Our Time
On the other side of the Miami and Erie Canal from Cincinnati proper sits perhaps the largest and most intact urban historic district in the U. S. The original Germans who settled the area in the 1800s nicknamed the Canal “the Rhine,” and their little community became known as “Over the Rhine.” Out of this now-artistic community came the husband and wife team “Over The Rhine” in 1989. Their latest release, the double-album Meet Me at the Edge of the World, is produced by Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Carolina Chocolate Drops) with a number of guests (including Aimee Mann); it is full of nineteen tracks that pay homage to the early roots of American music.
There is a mature wisdom that ultimately uplifts the listener in simple soulful arrangements that sound as timeless as that little neighborhood. The “less-is-more” contributions from the varied instrumentalists, and its having been recorded live in six days, give it a very intimate quality. Lead singer Karin Bergquist’s rich, emotional voice (with sometimes wavering backing by her husband and bandmate Linford Detweiler) gives this album its presence. But ultimately, it is the songs that make you think of apple pie, the county fair and agrarian living.
Like any standard old folk, there are songs about the vast heartland of Ohio, including “All Over Ohio,” “Highland County” “Cuyahoga,” and “The Birds of Ohio.” Likewise, songs about nature and the simplicity of the right setting include the title track and “Wildflower Bouquet.” Some of these songs border on the indulgent, but the musicianship and Bergquist’s vocal expertise make up for these shortcomings.
Some richly gorgeous songs include the title track as well as “Called Home” and “I’d Want You.” A shuffling blues number, “Gonna Let My Soul Catch My Body,” makes the listener crave more tempo changes. And OTR saved perhaps the best for last; “Favorite Time of Light” is just a feel-good let’s get together kind of song. In all, Over The Rhine has produced a capable, warm and sincere collection of old folk music from the heartland that dreams of simpler days.