The music of Over The Rhine has, in a rather profound way, served as the soundtrack to much of my wife’s and my relationship over the years. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, this husband and wife duo have birthed simple, soulful melodies for their extremely loyal fan base for over 20 years. My wife, Faith and I love all of Linford and Karen’s work but there was just something captivating about their 2003 double-disc set Ohio. We bought this record shortly after its release, during our first big family move from New York to Georgia and on our way down south we were fortunate enough to see the band play live in central Pennsylvania.
Upon arrival in Georgia, Ohio was on regular rotation in our humble, two-bedroom apartment, especially during chance dinner parties with friends. It’s one of those records that you can just let play, but certainly not because it is mere white noise. Whenever we’ve played the music of OTR for people, there are nearly unanimous expressions of adulation, which is definitely awesome but also frustrating because most people have never heard of the band. As Linford jokingly remarked once, “We talked about the fact that we [have] 21 new songs and not one damn hit.” Most of this stems from the fact that these two artists have upheld a sedulous pursuit of uncompromising work, never willing to acquiesce to big-selling formulas.
Of any song on Ohio, song number four, “Jesus in New Orleans” immediately jumped out as my favorite. The simple poetry of finding Jesus during chance encounters with strangers speaks so profoundly of simply being the church to someone wherever you are. In a conversation with Peter, Jesus himself said something about where two or three are gathered together, there He is in the midst.
It is these simple statements of introspection, failure, and love that Over The Rhine so masterfully weave into their art. Check out a lengthy review of Ohio here (insert hyperlink: http://www.overtherhine.com/cd11_reviews.php ) as well as detailed reviews and notes on their other 20 records.
Over The Rhine (courtesy of Greg Darling)