When Over the Rhine's Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist moved into a 170-year-old home outside of Cincinnati two years ago, it set the stage for the salvation of their troubled marriage. In this Edenic setting, this Christian couple planted a garden. And when a snake slithered into the attic, it all seemed positively biblical. But then the house began to quake with the power of musical healing, resulting in 2005's Drunkard's Prayer
Now, with Paste magazine naming the couple among the top 100 living songwriters, they're unleashing a triumphant album that celebrates true love, new vision, and redemption: The Trumpet Child.
They've spiked this punch with New Orleans spirits—horn ensembles jazz up the joy and sweeten the sour. Bergquist's voice fills up the room like red wine in a glass, while Detweiler's piano playing has the ethereal tone of a fingertip lightly tracing the rim of a glass. It's more Cole Porter than Coldplay.
Their marital bliss is even more obvious; it smolders and sparks in "Trouble" and "Let's Spend the Day in Bed," songs that will send listeners swooning like skybound lovers in a Chagall painting.
They're lovers in a dangerous time. In "Nothing Is Innocent," Karin laments an age of deception: "Silence is loud / Humility is so proud / Nothing is innocent now." While our nation ponders worrying options, these two weave wit and whimsy, dreaming what might happen "If a Song Could Be President."
Some listeners may flinch at the candid political sentiments and the righteously raw sensuality. But Over the Rhine's art is anchored in the gospel music that Detweiler, the "son of a preacher man," grew up hearing. "I don't want to waste your time / with music you don't need," sings Bergquist in the opener.
And in the title track, Christ's imminent return is painted with an awe-inspiring promise: "With Gabriel's power and Sachmo's grace / He will surprise the human race." You might even be tempted to go outside and see if the song has set the Second Coming in motion.
Jeffrey Overstreet, auraliascolors.com
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