Local Wire

Over the Rhine

When many people use the "Americana" tag, they're usually referring to rock 'n' roll laced with elements of folk and country music, two of its "roots" vectors. But uniquely, distinctive American music encompasses other genres and styles, too — blues, gospel, jazz, the song craft of Stephen Foster and Hoagy Carmichael, and the rags of Scott Joplin. The Ohio duo Over the Rhine — Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler — know this darn well. Their latest opus, The Trumpet Child (Great Speckled Dog), is a suite of tunes with the spectrum of American music its unifying factor. Like Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks, Over the Rhine interweaves inspirations so deftly it's hard to tell where one leaves off and another begins. From the hymn-like horns that kick off "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time" to the honky-tonk anthem "If a Song Could Be President," Trumpet Child is a musical road and rail network stretching across time. Bergquist's dreamy warble evokes Patsy Cline, jazz singers Billie Holiday and Mildred Bailey, and Lucinda Williams' (hypothetical) precocious little sister. With their subtlety, range, and nostalgia-free presentation, OTH makes many Americana outfits sound like the bar bands they are.
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Mark Keresman