Saturday, 10 November 2012

Albums for Life: 99: Over the Rhine: Drunkard's Prayer

You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey from time to time

I've recently brought the latest album by Over the Rhine.
'The Long Surrender" is a lovely thing; beautifully produced by the brilliant Joe Henry.
I'm not sure if it's up there with 'Ohio' or the sublime 'Drunkard's Prayer'; only time will tell.
The art work is luxurious; had me thinking "now here's a band with a budget".
Then I read in one of the two included booklets a list of 1000 folk who had contributed to the recording costs.
I'm sure that the much in demand Joe Henry doesn't come cheap.
It reminded me of my recent notes about Lloyd Cole requesting $100 a head from a fan base of 'Executive Producers'.
Seems that a few of you have been involved in helping out your struggling heroes; laudable if they are indeed struggling.
I was reading some American reviews of the album and found this interesting thread; it gets a little vinegary in places but kind of echoes my reservations about the idea.

I get that if it's done well, handled honorably, it could strengthen the bond between a band and its audience. Speaking with friends within the music world it seems that it's becoming more common.
Who knows, if I can come up with a way of humbly reaching out to you; touching you up without stitching you up; you may well be receiving that thoughtfully worded plea sooner rather than later.
Times are hard so brace yourselves...

Meanwhile, back to the music; there's a whiff of The Cowboy Junkies in the world weary delivery; although this seems more substantial. It's more about the sound than the sometimes insubstantial nature of the songs. Maybe the songs are rendered thus by the etherial nature of their presentation; but what presentation! I've always thought that Bersgquist's voice sounded like a sober Lucinda Williams (respect to Williams as I know that she's mainly dry, but her drawl does suggest a penchant for hooch) and blow me, she turns up hollering on the new album... 
If you don't know their stuff have a listen to this beauty; 'Born' from 2005's 'Drunkard's Prayer'. 
The album was apparently recorded in their home with a stripped down band and helped save Karen Bergquist and Linford Detweiler's troubled relationship. They both look a little 'troubled' above...
Is it me or does anyone else think that Linford looks like he's stuck paper eyes on the lenses of his glasses?


  1. Hi Trevor, Crowdfunding is becoming ever more popular, alright. There is an Irish site which is regularly giving out money to film, theatre, music and other projects. Short filmmakers embraced this form earlier as there are few commercial avenues for them. Thinking back to my own experience of lo-fi low cost recording, it would have taken very little to make a big, big difference.
    This is another new one to me, although I have heard the name. Like it.

  2. I like the idea of folk paying upfront for the album Seamus; they get what they pay for with a privilege or two thrown in as a thank you for essentially what is a pre-order. Pay a bit more and you get a t-shirt and a limited edition bonus CD of demos; fair enough. It's the idea of plucking a figure out of the air (like Lloyd's $100) which is out of kilter with what the benefactor's give; smacks of praying on people's better nature to me... all they get is the CD, a name check and an emailed poem... poor.
    Glad you like OTR; the songs aren't always distinct but they do make lovely sound...

  3. And maybe film making is a different thing; I'd imagine that the avenue of any indie film maker's income is not as obvious as the musical dollar... funding needed up front... I'm kind of conflicted with this one... I'd love funding/help but would only countenance the idea if it were a balanced deal...

  4. I wasn't sure if you were aware of OTR, but it appears you sure are! I know I included a couple of their tunes on the comp CD's, and I almost sent you a copy of Long Surrender (double-shipped by Amazon) about a year ago. But I didn't, simply because I thought it a bit of a disappointment. There are a few good tunes, and Karin's sexy, slurry vocal phrasing are very cool. All My FA...VO...R...ITE People!
    I've been following the band since Patience; picked it up in one of those ghastly Christian book stores that I used to sneak into. Accumulated nearly all of their albums; all contain a couple of gems. Frankly though, always more impressed by the packaging than the musical content. Perhaps a little crush on Karin too... Um, love her voice?
    Back to Long Surrender... again lovely artwork and packaging. Joe Henry's liner-notes articulate and wise. I wish I had the CD here... I love the story he relates of his first encounter with Karin and eyeing her tattoo, with a quote that goes something like "Comparison is the enemy of joy." Am I close? Anyway, it's sorta stuck with me. Can be interpreted on many levels; but I read an interview where she explained how it reminds of an inherent commitment to their art, regardless of profit or recognition. An admirable perspective in a world of disposable 'flavor of the month' entertainment "idols"...
    I'm sure you'd agree.

  5. Can find no reference to tattoos in Joe's liner notes tt. He does mention "etching cartoon hummingbirds into bare skin to attend naked truth" in their quest for "luminance of order" and a "lipstick-smeared brand of soul". I love Henry's liner notes; funny, wise and (surely) half pissed...
    I was chatting with Seamus (over on Vapour Trails) about how I favor the band's sound above their songs; the sound is archaic; heavenly. The songs can seem a little unfocussed but that may well be benefit of their smokey, ethereal presentation...
    I've disregarded profit and recognition all my career Tim.
    I hope to hell that some might find virtue in that necessity...

  6. Alternate liner notes? You've got me digging...
    Eureka, found on OTR's nice little site!

    I was going to copy/paste the whole piece but comment box only allows 4,096 characters. To read the whole thing:

    First few paragraphs:


    Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I looked it up, and that’s what I found, anyway; and it surprised me, too. I don’t know what malaria fever-dream might have brought such a tough customer face-to-face with that startling bit of clarity, but I do know when the conscious thought first flashed across my life’s personal Situation Screen: Karin Bergquist –one half of the puzzle that is Over the Rhine— walked into my kitchen, peeled off a corduroy jacket, and there it was: inked into her arm, just below the left shoulder. Accompanied by a delicate hummingbird, the tattoo’s flowing script seemed as folksy and inevitable as if it had been cut there by Ockham’s own straight razor. It read like unadulterated truth, that is, and it stuck with me.

    Karin and husband Linford Detweiler came west from their farm in Ohio ready to shed not only comparison, it seems, but all assumptions about how their new songs might live and breathe, hover and speak. Before their arrival on my turf, my communication with them had been a fast flurry of emails, occasional phone conferences, and the bundles of song that I’d find sporadically filling my morning’s inbox. I had imagined an elaborate life for the two of them, stitched together from a few threadbare facts and scrap references, and from the séance-like voices that their demos used to address me. I pictured Karin and Linford in the attic of their Civil War-era house in the rural outskirts of Cincinnati, huddled beneath a swinging bare bulb, shooing away pigeons, and confiding songs-in-progress into an old German-made reel-to-reel recorder. (I don’t know how they got that piano up there.) That’s what the songs implied upon arrival; and I imagined they paid a young undergrad, working part-time at the local Box-n-Ship, to loop the magnetic tape through a special port in his laptop in order for the songs to land in my lap, still crackling and smelling of mowed grass and jarred fireflies…still evolving.


    Joe Henry
    Barcelona, June 2010


  7. You could be qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.