The Long Surrender - Over The Rhine

Good lord, but this one starts out beautifully!, a rolling summer afternoon's hazy shimmer shading into evening with understated vigor and a late period Fleetwood Mac (Bob Welch and Buckingham-Nicks eras) sentimentality, a wistful paean surrounding the listener like a succubus with a pointedly languid seduction. "The Laugh of Recognition", the cut I'm referring to, is so well architected and so damned hedonistic that I had to listen three times through before proceeding to the rest of the disc.

A misty beauty is in fact what could be said to most typify Over the Rhine, sometimes rather majestically, sublimely, in a keyboard based atmosphere, husband Linford Detweiler the man at the Steinway while wife Karin Bergquist plays guitar and sings in a voice moving between stage, promenade, meadow, fog enshrouded forest, and church entryway (in "Rave On" descending into an impassioned wail that would have the African Methodist Episcopal choir bending ear raptly). The two have perfected their craft so movingly that they've accompanied Dylan, Prine, DiFranco, and other top musicians on tour. They also sometimes invite comparison to the ground level of a group I'm hopelessly enamored of, October Project, but where OP wafts down from the clouds, OTR oft rises from the pastured earth. Both nonetheless hit levels of melancholy that transcend the madding press of threnody-crafters too often satisfied with much too facile echoes far removed from the depths of the well.

With cuts like "Infamous Love Song", the prime duet and their complement of thoughtful backing musicians fully embrace the urgency of weak but willing flesh trudging its paired paces through rough halls, unfailing unity the goal despite a thicket of lures and failures, strength defining itself in the difficult art of just surviving the gauntlet. Long Surrender, when it everything comes down to it, is all of a flavor, no matter which track is chosen, so don't look to be lifted into a dancing mood or expect to hum merrily while trimming the hedge; the blues comes in many forms, and through lament is where we learn things. In any event,  I'm increasingly, in sight of groups Like Over The Rhine, finding it absolutely unnecessary to ever turn music radio on any more. Why should I want to listen to second-raters?

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