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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Over the Rhine
The Trumpet Child
Great Speckled Dog

Rating: 6.7/10 ?

September 3, 2007
Even some of the band's more seasoned fans found quite a few unfamiliar names listed when Paste magazine chimed in with Over the Rhine at number 74 on their list of the top 100 living songwriters, chief amongst them being the durable songwriting duo of Linford Detweiler and vocalist chanteuse Karin Bergquist. The pair, also a married couple, have been collaborating on songs since their debut in 1991, and this month marks the release of their tenth studio album, The Trumpet Child. Don't expect a TRL performance.

As Over The Rhine albums go, The Trumpet Child lands more toward the jazzy end of the group's spectrum, with horns accents introducing the leadoff track, "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time." In fact the track's first 45 seconds live up to the album title, all blaring brass with no vocals to speak of. When the horns pull back the tune then morphs into a lounge number, Detweiler's piano and the classically trained pipes of Bergquist stepping to the fore. "I don't wanna waste good wine if you won't stick around," sings Bergquist, taking a step away from the rootsier vibe of 2005's Drunkard's Prayer. Such diversions might prove risky for some, but Bergquist is a vocalist who can pull it off like few others.

After the opener, follow-up track "Trouble" follows a similar path, throwing in Latin percussion for good measure as the rhythmic piano shuffle propels the song nicely forward. By the third track The Trumpet Child has re-routed itself into the familiar, rootsy terrain of classic Over The Rhine. "I'm On a Roll" sounds familiar in its repetitive chorus and is an infectious sing-along from the first listen. The track possesses a flow which melds so nicely with the lounge-y, jazzy feel of the album but also balances itself in a resophonic guitar solo. The lyrics never stray too far from the nonsensical chorus (first line the same, second line changes) "I'm on a roll/ La deed a dee dah dah." A rare tune, "I'm On a Roll" is almost annoyingly catchy at first, but grows in its depth with repeated spins that reveal it for the gem it is.

While tracks like "I'm On a Roll" would be standouts on any album, The Trumpet Child lacks the consistency of quality found in Over the Rhine's other recent works, Ohio and Drunkard's Prayer. Sure, Trumpet Child is consistent, its norm featuring repetitive lounge number after repetitive lounge number, but outside of "I'm On a Roll" and the other standout track, "Entertaining Thoughts," the first half of the album comes off a bit monotonous and short on quality.

The second half of The Trumpet Child introduces a handful of additional interesting diversions into the album - in "Don't Wait for Tom" Detweiler sounds off on an obvious backyard percussion song in the mold of Tom Waits, and closing number "If A Song Could be President" comes full circle with its name-checking on a list of Americana classics - but overall it strays too far from the stark beauty fans have come to expect from Over the Rhine.

There are a few good numbers sprinkled throughout The Trumpet Child, and the album could very well prove to be an interesting diversion for those Over The Rhine fans with evolving tastes and a willingness to be lead astray, but for this listener's money the safest bet is to wait on an ORT comeback the next time around.

Reviewed by Jeff McMahon
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Jeff McMahon



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