Reviews:: Over the Rhine The Trumpet Child

Certain sounds just warm your heart, no matter what the occasion. You know the CDs you reach for on Sunday mornings or while you cook dinner with the late day sun beaming through your windows? Well for me, one of those artists is Over the Rhine. This Midwestern act delivers quality roots music that is as warming as that first cup of coffee and just as eye opening.

Their new LP - The Trumpet Child - is a somber journey, but one that sounds absolutely fantastic. The record opens with a simple brass intro and Karin lamenting that she doesn't "wanna waste your time with music you don't need." I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time is a defiant stand by a woman all too quick to admit her own faults. She doesn't want to waste good wine or her time for with someone who will leave. It's such a simple concept; she wants company and is going to be a little bit selfish if she doesn't get it. It doesn't get much realer than that.

Musically, it's really hard to describe this band. Booming horns flutter at the right times. Stand up bass and ivory keys bounce around the room and Karin's soulful vocals balance nicely between deep South church choir and dank club sing along. Despite the crispness of tracks like Let's Spend The Day In Bed (which if life were fair would make Karin and Linford as well known as Norah Jones), there is a simple roughness that shines through and gives the record a jam session feel. When I listen to the record (especially the loose acoustic lines and swampy feel of Who' I Kiddin' But Me), I imagine the couple sitting with friends, passing instruments around and just seeing where the sounds end up. They combine soul, jazz, roots and it comes off as a slinky masterpiece.

Trouble has the sex appeal of classics like Fever, but the band manages to put a new twist on the older elements. I'm On Roll is a toe-tapping track that (although I hesitate to make this comparison as Over the Rhine has been doing this for 15 years) fans of the sultry Leslie Feist will want to put on repeat. Tony's slide work is excellent, and the ooh oohs compliment the whimsical lyrics ("I want the whole enchilada… From the thrift store to Prada").

An interesting wrinkle is the appropriately titled, Don't Wait for Tom. Linford takes the lead on this Waits-esque percussion heavy, barroom piano number and it really refreshes you for the ever so optimistic and cute album closer - If A Song Could Be President. As the title indicates, Karin expresses how much better we'd be if music ruled the world (imagine electing our own Neil Young as one of your senators or having Steve Earle as your news man). It's a cute ending that lifts your spirits after the weight of some of the tracks on the record.

The songs show the experience and continuity the band has developed over the last 15 years of playing. The album flows without a hiccup and almost begs you to hit repeat. I've never seen Over the Rhine live, but I'd wager the experience would be similar to that of their touring partners, The Cowboy Junkies. Nary a note would sound out of place and the spirited covers and vast back catalog would satisfy even the most skeptical listener.

If you are looking for a jazzy, soul record to spend early mornings and late evening with, look no farther than The Trumpet Child.

MP3:: I'm On a Roll
MP3:: Moondance (Van Morrison cover - live)

web site :: myspace

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