November 2005

Over the Rhine - Drunkard’s Prayer
Back Porch/EMI 70876-10227-2-1
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

Over the Rhine is Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, and they’ve built a loyal following through extensive touring and word of mouth. Drunkard’s Prayer is their 12th recording together, and it was while touring in support of their previous disc, Ohio, that they came to a realization that formed the basis for this new collection of songs. Bergquist and Detweiler are husband and wife, and they began to feel, as Detweiler says in the liner notes, "…that although good things were happening in our music, there was just very little energy or creativity or time left over for our marriage…."

The couple decided to stop the tour and go home to Ohio to take a look at themselves and their life together. Drunkard’s Prayer is a meditation on love, marriage, and spirituality. Sometimes the message is direct and clear ("Love is never far from danger"), while at other times it’s mysterious but inexplicably right ("We’re alone / Slide trombones like an orchestra / Full of fortune tellers"). The music is complex and gorgeous, with hints of folk, jazz, and pop. Detweiler is an accomplished pianist and guitarist who offers tasteful, restrained support to his wife’s beautiful and expressive voice.

The couple recorded Drunkard’s Prayer in their living room. The recording, though digital, is warm and luxurious. It is also intimate, as if they were performing in your living room. This disc deserves a wide audience, and it makes me eager to investigate Over the Rhine’s other recordings.