Down the road 19 years and 18 albums, this husband-and-wife duo from Cincinnati only grow more artistically ambitious, coming up with songs and sounds to match.
The symbolic title-track child is an angel come to save us, “with Gabriel's power and Satchmo's grace.” Grandiosity hazard lights flash, but Over the Rhine carry it off because of Linford Detweiler's carefully crafted metaphors, the measured intensity of Karin Bergquist's jazz-cellar vocal and the understated elegance of producer Brad Jones's horn arrangement, which simultaneously evokes New Orleans'traditional past and present cool. The Hurricane Katrina flood and its aftermath also serve as politico-emotional backdrop to “Nothing Is Innocent” and “If a Song Could Be President,” which confirm their communicative way with large issues.
But Over the Rhine feed the heart as well as the head. Freed to sing of other matters, largely love and lust, Bergquist gets so jazz loose, girlish-womany, flirty and frustrated you can almost feel her fingering your fly. “Your sexy cocktail-hour stubble/ Is doing what it should”, she notes in “Trouble,” while “Desperate For Love” entices, “Got this black silk slip on my hips/ The kitchen faucet just drips and drips/ You're desperate for love.”
Well, sigh, really. Not to be missed.