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5.0 6
by Over the Rhine

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It's mystifying that the recordings that give listeners all the trouble are the albums that offer a lasting impact. Over the Rhine's Ohio is just such an album. It is a sprawling, two-disc sermon on want, need, recalcitrance, and traditional American spiritual matters viewed in an untraditional manner. Produced by OTR and Mahan Kalpa


It's mystifying that the recordings that give listeners all the trouble are the albums that offer a lasting impact. Over the Rhine's Ohio is just such an album. It is a sprawling, two-disc sermon on want, need, recalcitrance, and traditional American spiritual matters viewed in an untraditional manner. Produced by OTR and Mahan Kalpa, it is full of contradiction and represents two different sides of the band's sound. Disc one is almost completely devoid of rhythm and has nothing whatsoever to do with rock & roll; its dynamic is fragmented to the point of being absent in places, and its pace is like that of a slow, controlled, forest burn. Disc two is rhythmically more varied and projects the questions on disc one more forcefully. Emotion, physical desire, and spiritual catharsis are not so artfully stated, making them come to the listener more immediately; and ultimately, there is some haunted spirit of rock & roll present in its tracks. As an album, Ohio, with its sense of tight tracking and meticulous overdubbing, carefully positioned silences, lyrical artifice, and an insistence on absolute control, seemingly turns back on itself and stands in opposition to the rest of the band's catalog, and in places, stands against itself. Because of its utter lack of playfulness and self-conscious seriousness, it seems to move against the grain that rock & roll by its inherent nature, revels in. However, none of this is to be discounted. There is great value in the aesthetic view that Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist hold in their collective, velvet-gloved fists. When feeling a record on a gut level as deeply as Ohio demands, it becomes imperative for the listener to observe not only the narrative journeys in the songs themselves, but the one going on in the mirror as well. Ohio is full of OTR's trademark struggle with the fractured beauty, the brokenness, the sacred, the lure to redeem the sensual and the sexual from the tawdriness of popular culture, the revelation in everyday life, the nagging, seemingly eternal doubt that has been discarded as profane or blasphemous by those wishing to discount the human condition, and so forth. In other words, these transcendent themes are also central to the evolution of not only rock & roll, but popular music across the board. On disc one, songs such as the opener, "B.F.D.," and "What I'll Remember Most," with whinnying pedal steel guitars (courtesy of under-recognized guitarist Tony Paoletta), brushed drums, and acoustic six strings, become accoutrements for Bergquist to explore the deep, hers, Detweiler's, and yours as you twist uncomfortably in the jagged ellipses at the end of her lines. The more itchy the lyrics get, the more pronounced the artifice becomes -- "Jesus in New Orleans," a song that is unbelievable in its haggard gospel setting, becomes shiny new because of that uptight framework. Disc two comes from the heart of the process, immediately in the moment. In the songs that reference something outside the first person, such as "She," "Another Number One," "How Long Have You Been Stoned," and so forth, the power of observation becomes the articulation of archetype and metaphor. It is as if these songs all echo and underscore Bergquist's vocal ache that is as timeworn as it is brazenly insistent: "I wanna do better/I wanna try harder/I wanna believe down to the letter...." As the pedal steel whines into the center of the tune's spine, backed by a lilting piano and a faltering rhythm track, Bergquist's voice embodies the entire struggle; she's pointing the mirror into the face of the listener who "needs the grace to find what can't be found." That pop music can do such a thing is a wonder. That it can cause such visceral reactions, both attractive and repellent, is remarkable; that a band can focus so single-pointedly is a miracle. Ultimately, OTR's Ohio is a work of tattered grace, a deeply moving, maddening, and redemptive work of art, and necessary, ambitious pop.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Over the Rhine   Primary Artist
Linford Detweiler   Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Electric Guitar,Electric Piano,Mellotron,Wurlitzer,Mini Moog
Paul Mahern   Percussion,Mini Moog
Jake Smith   Bass
Vess Ruhtenberg   Electric Guitar
Jason Wilbur   Electric Guitar
Tony Paoletta   Dobro,Pedal Steel Guitar
Will Sayles   Percussion,Drums
Devon Ashley   Percussion,Drums
Megan Weeder   Violin
Tyron Cooper   Background Vocals
Karen Bergquist   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Vocals

Technical Credits

Linford Detweiler   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Engineering
Paul Mahern   Engineering
Stephanie V. Parker   Contributor
Jacob Belser   Engineering
Natasha Evans   Contributor
Tyron Cooper   Choir Arrangement
Karen Bergquist   Producer

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Ohio 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have followed Over the Rhine, or even if you don't, you will be inspired by this latest project. Even though it is a double-CD, the quality of the songs is not diminished by its quantity. It's great music to play in the background on a quiet evening.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just recently discovered OTR and this band is a must listen for anyone hwo loves music or has ever been away from the surety of mainstream faith. If you have eve rlloked in the mirro and wondered why or what you should do, OHIO is an inspiration and a question. Listen with both sides of your brain!
Guest More than 1 year ago
And now it becomes clear - the very good (though inconsistent) Films for Radio was a transition piece...a time for Karin & Linford to redefine what/who OtR is. They came up with some intriguing potential answers to that question on that album, but here the perhaps ill-advised experiments have been almost completely shelved in favor of focusing on their strengths - great songwriting, beautiful singing, acoustic instruments, and a wide stylistic approach that touches on much of the most important American popular music of the last fifty years. Shades of folk, country, blues, gospel, even jazz and a light sort of funk imbue this superlative collection of songs. There are heartbreaking ballads and straightforward rock songs. There are songs with just voice and piano as well as quite orchestrated pieces. It rambles a bit on the second disc, and a few tunes sorta feel like above-average genre exercises. But then - even acknowledged double-album classics like the White Album and Songs in the Key of Life are not 100% golden, and somehow their flaws make them more approachable, less like a too-much-of-a-good-thing greatest-hits sort of listening experience. The ebb and flow of listening to a great double album is part of the charm, as some songs grab you immediately, and others take root more slowly, revealing their charms gradually. That is the territory we are in here - like the albums mentioned above, it manages to attain a unique sort of coherence despite its stylistic variety, an it ends up feeling like a victorius affirmation of their artistic vision. Taken as a whole, this is a pretty astonishing album, the best album of their career thus far and able to hold its own with some of the great double albums of the rock era. You need to hear this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From silky sway to emotive ballads, OTR has launched a double album on the same level as "Good Dog. Bad Dog." Karen's vocals are as crystalline as ever.... one of the great voices of our time. But the real gem continues to be their lyrical expanse through a solid Christian worldview... in love with life, in joys and struggles, in yearning for completeness, of which we only see through this glass dimly. Artistic expression with content! Don't miss this!!!! This will remain high on your playlist.
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