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Over the Rhine - The Long Surrender (Jan. 2011)


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#21 Josh Hurst

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 11:03 PM

It is indeed difficult to listen to "Infamous Love Song" without thinking of Leonard Cohen... but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to hear "All My Favorite People" as anything other than their answer to Tom Waits' "Come On Up to the House."

"Undamned" is one of the, oh, two or three simplest lyrics they've ever written... and one of the most astonishing. I've nearly broken down in tears several times during that song. And it is the most human I've ever heard Lucinda sound.

Cohesive in subject matter? Definitely... but, like any good OtR album (including Good Dog), there's a nice moment of diversion here in "The King Knows How," a song that I fear is destined to be overlooked despite it being totally awesome.

Worth noting: "Sharpest Blade" and "Soon" are both Joe Henry lyrics... but the way they fit into OtR's aesthetic is remarkable. (He told me that he wrote the latter in just a couple minutes over coffee one morning; why do some people get all the talent?)

Favorite thing here, thus far, is "Rave On," though I'm having a hard time talking about it just yet. I'm really moved by "Laugh of Recognition" as well-- a song about abject failure that somehow manages to be kinda inspiring

All in all: Yes, I think it's their best album yet.

#22 Overstreet

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 12:13 AM

"Rave On" is based on a B.H. Fairchild poem. He read the poem as an introduction when they played the song live at the Glen Workshop last summer. If you read the poem, the song's ideas become clearer... but it's a great song.

#23 Josh Hurst

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 08:21 AM

"Rave On" is based on a B.H. Fairchild poem. He read the poem as an introduction when they played the song live at the Glen Workshop last summer. If you read the poem, the song's ideas become clearer... but it's a great song.


I knew it was based on the poem but confess that I have not tracked it down quite yet; honestly, I'm still wrapping my mind around the SOUND of that song, which has this sort of holy-moment feel that gives me shivers.

#24 Overstreet

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 07:33 PM




Edited by Overstreet, 14 November 2010 - 07:38 PM.


#25 Josh Hurst

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 08:28 PM

Thanks so much for finding and posting those, Jeffrey, especially "The Sharpest Blade." Hearing JH-- my all-time musical hero-- sing with Over the Rhine-- aside from U2, my all-time favorite band-- is something fairly close to a dream come true.

#26 Overstreet

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 08:56 PM

Wish I could have been there. But oh well... I'll see them two nights in a row next weekend.

Joe just responded to the video with Lucinda on my FB page:

she's a hertbreaker, lu is. sings like the smear of a blood-red evening sky.



#27 LibrarianDeb

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 11:32 PM

We are psyched to be seeing Henry with the band next month in Cincinnati :D

#28 Josh Hurst

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:04 AM

My novella review of what has surely grown into my favorite OtR recording.

#29 Andy Whitman

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 10:37 AM

I am always conflicted about new Over the Rhine albums. The reason? I never think they're great. I think they're pretty good; always well written, always well sung. But I don't think they're great. And I write that as someone who knows dozens of rabid OtR fans, who hangs out in their (relatively) local stomping grounds, and who shares a batch of close friends with the band.

It's particularly problematic fcr me this time because of Joe Henry's involvement. I've made no secret of my great admiration for Joe Henry. And I think he has certainly produced OtR's best sounding album. The band is superb. Henry's writing contributions to the album are superb. But I still think the album is "merely" pretty good. As in four stars pretty good, which is where OtR albums always seem to settle for me. It's not a critcism, really. Pretty good honestly means pretty good. And yet I know that I will encounter incredulous reactions from many people I know, and probably some here as well.

The issue for me, as it has always been, is Karin's voice. I know, I know. What the hell is wrong with me? It's a big, brassy, soulful voice, a cross between Broadway and Billie Holiday. But I'm not a big Broadway fan, and there's the rub. When I hear Karin's duet with Lucinda Williams, who unquestionably has a more technically limited voice, I prefer Lucinda's singing. That's because I prefer raw, ragged, and idiosyncratic/weird to polished, albeit soulfully polished. It's just a personal preference.

I am steeling myself for the latest round of local swooning. Really, my friends have more reason than ever to swoon. Everything about The Long Surrender suggests that it's the band's best album yet. I just wish I was a little more enthusiastic about the polish.

Edited by Andy Whitman, 13 December 2010 - 03:04 PM.


#30 Josh Hurst

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 10:41 AM

I just don't understand any of that, Andy Whitman.

But I admire you for having the courage and conviction to say it here at A&F. :)

#31 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:06 AM

Andy Whitman wrote:
: The issue for me, as it has always been, is Karin's voice. I know, I know. What the hell is wrong with me? It's a big, brassy, soulful voice, a cross between Broadway and Billie Holiday. But I'm not a big Broadway fan, and there lies the rub. When I hear Karin's duet with Lucinda Williams, who unquestionably has a more technically limited voice, I prefer Lucinda's singing. That's because I prefer raw, ragged, and idiosyncratic/weird to polished, albeit soulfully polished. It's just a personal preference.

Fascinating. My sister (a music teacher and pianist who accompanies many singers at their recitals etc.) doesn't care for Karin's voice either, or at least the way she uses it, but I don't think "polished" is the word she'd use.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 13 December 2010 - 11:07 AM.


#32 Andy Whitman

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:34 AM

Andy Whitman wrote:
: The issue for me, as it has always been, is Karin's voice. I know, I know. What the hell is wrong with me? It's a big, brassy, soulful voice, a cross between Broadway and Billie Holiday. But I'm not a big Broadway fan, and there lies the rub. When I hear Karin's duet with Lucinda Williams, who unquestionably has a more technically limited voice, I prefer Lucinda's singing. That's because I prefer raw, ragged, and idiosyncratic/weird to polished, albeit soulfully polished. It's just a personal preference.

Fascinating. My sister (a music teacher and pianist who accompanies many singers at their recitals etc.) doesn't care for Karin's voice either, or at least the way she uses it, but I don't think "polished" is the word she'd use.

Perhaps "mannered" is a better descriptor here. There really is a cabaret element to the music that I find slightly offputting. And yes, that's a personal preference. I hear it distinctly in songs like "Soon" and "Infamous Love Song." As much as I love the Americana of songs like "Rave On" and "Undamned" (truly amazing, both), I am less than enthralled by "Soon" and "Infamous Love Song." I keep picturing Liza Minelli. And that's not someone I want to picture.

Edited by Andy Whitman, 13 December 2010 - 11:41 AM.


#33 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:56 AM

Andy Whitman wrote:
: Perhaps "mannered" is a better descriptor here.

Yeah, that might work. I can't remember what my sister said, exactly -- I haven't bought or listened to a new OtR album since Films for Radio -- but it was something along the lines of how "affected" Karin's voice was. I can't say it had bothered me until my sister pointed that out, but afterwards, I dunno, it became one of those things I couldn't NOT notice. Kind of like how I see the teal-and-orange colour palette dominating so many movies these days.

#34 Andy Whitman

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 12:03 PM

Andy Whitman wrote:
: Perhaps "mannered" is a better descriptor here.

Yeah, that might work. I can't remember what my sister said, exactly -- I haven't bought or listened to a new OtR album since Films for Radio -- but it was something along the lines of how "affected" Karin's voice was. I can't say it had bothered me until my sister pointed that out, but afterwards, I dunno, it became one of those things I couldn't NOT notice. Kind of like how I see the teal-and-orange colour palette dominating so many movies these days.

I can't entirely get past it. But look, lines like "All my favorite people are broken/Believe me, my heart should know" make me want to stand up and applaud. The whole song does, in fact. A number of songs on the album do, in fact. There is a lot to like, even love. I don't want my minor annoyance with Karin's vocal tics to get in the way of the fact that I think this is a good album, that these are good people, and that I greatly appreciate their talent, vulnerability, and creative vision. I'm very glad they do what they do. But I bet there are some people who are more glad than me. <_<

Edited by Andy Whitman, 13 December 2010 - 12:03 PM.


#35 M. Leary

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 12:12 PM

Perhaps "mannered" is a better descriptor here.


Her voice has changed over the years, and there are some manners from Good Dog, Bad Dog and a few classics previous to that album that I miss hearing live. But changes come.

#36 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 12:18 PM

M. Leary wrote:
: Her voice has changed over the years, and there are some manners from Good Dog, Bad Dog and a few classics previous to that album that I miss hearing live. But changes come.

:)

#37 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 05:01 PM

I just don't understand any of that, Andy Whitman.

But I admire you for having the courage and conviction to say it here at A&F. :)


I'll gather the pitchforks... ;)

#38 Andy Whitman

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 05:29 PM


I just don't understand any of that, Andy Whitman.

But I admire you for having the courage and conviction to say it here at A&F. :)


I'll gather the pitchforks... ;)

No! Anything but a pitchfork!

#39 Overstreet

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:35 PM

I'm not sure that Pitchfork is going to be any help to us on this. OTR just aren't hip enough for them, apparently.

(And yet, if you like OTR and you're a Christian, you're a Christian hipster, apparently. So I've been told.)

Edited by Overstreet, 13 December 2010 - 06:36 PM.


#40 mrmando

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:10 PM

No! Anything but a pitchfork!

OK, salad forks!