Album Club January Review: The Trumpet Child, by Over The Rhine

Last month, Jenny made the effort to arrange an “album club”, which sort of like a book club, will listen to one album over the course of a month and discuss it. We voted. This is the first month and review for the group.

A few years ago, I turned 40 and about the same time I had a scientific group that contained a number of hip (well, hip for scientists) young, southern Californians. The convergence of these two things made me acutely aware of the fact that I was probably way behind in current musical trends.

To remedy this, I began to get the independent music magazine Paste. Now Paste covers all sorts of genres (pop, folk, rock, “world music”) and focuses on the indie-music scene. When I first received the magazine, it came with a CD that contained the month’s “featured” releases. (Note: now there is no physical magazine, but they publish reviews on their website and offer monthly downloads.)

In one of the first issues I received, the sampler CD contained the song “Trouble” by Over The Rhine. Like most of the featured artists, I’d never heard of the band before, but I liked the song enough to buy their 2007 release (which I suppose was the goal of the sampler), The Trumpet Child.

The Trumpet Child

Listening to this album in its entirety, as opposed to selected tracks being part of some uber-playlist, has been fun. To me, the album still holds a lot of charm – mostly due to Karen Berquist’s vocals (no autotune required) and Linford Detweiler’s arrangements and the team’s songwriting.

I’m not sure what genre I’d put Over The Rhine and this album into – Americana, perhaps? – but whatever you want to call it, this is the kind of music I like to listen to during happy hour. They’ve performed at times with Lucinda Williams and I certainly hear similarities between them. At times, playful and at times thoughtful and often melancholy, these songs mostly come across to me as genuine.

In addition to “Trouble”, I think my favorite song on the album is “Desperate For Love” which just has a great lilting, slightly sultry touch. The song that I could probably do without is “If A Song Could Be President”, which I think tries to be overly clever and finishes like most things in which artists attempt to be overly clever.

Over The Rhine

The Beloved and I saw them in December 2008 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles (which was a great concert) and by far, the song that was the most fun was Detweiler’s homage to Tom Waits “Don’t Wait For Tom”, which included Karen leading the audience and banging on a trashcan lid.

Who said people over 40 can’t rock out?

Eight stars out of 10

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15 thoughts on “Album Club January Review: The Trumpet Child, by Over The Rhine

  1. “If a Song Could Be President” is also my least favorite song on that album. It’s probably my least favorite Over the Rhine song ever. I haven’t heard it in a couple years, though. Maybe I’d like it more now. I don’t know.

    Thanks for posting your review. I’ve been confused about the Album Club and how it’s supposed to work. I think I’ll just follow your lead and write my own review on my own site. Now I’ve got to dig around and find my copy of The Trumpet Child. I know it’s around here somewhere.

    • I think we’re all a bit confused… :) I posted it here b/c I hadn’t gotten the access invite to the Musical Bum Club site (but then I just did) — I think the going mode my be to post independently but then link back through the “home” site.

      I’d almost forgotten that “If a Song Could Be President” was actually ON The Trumpet Child since I’ve had it pretty much ‘unselected’ for a long long time now.

  2. My interest in Over the Rhine started with a free MP3 download from amazon, “The Laugh of Recognition.” It was more of a “Oh, I guess I’ll take it, since you’re offering it,” but it was a nice tune. Then that guy M—–l wrote about them, so I ended up buying The Long Surrender, which I like a lot. I haven’t heard The Trumpet Child yet, but I think I’ll pick it up the next time I’m in the mood to buy some new music. Thanks, Steve!

    • HG — The Long Surrender is their most recent release and The Trumpet Child was the one before that. If you like The Long Surrender, I think you’d enjoy The Trumpet Child too — and their 2-disc set (which is considered by many to be their quintessential release), Ohio.

  3. Pingback: Album Club: January 2012 Reviews | Musical Bum Club

  4. Nice review. I think the only downside to posting reviews on our various individual sites is that it will be hard to get a discussion going and follow it all in one place.

    • RP — yes, Jenny got us all access, but I’d already posted my review here and others followed suit. Maybe next month we can put them on the Musical Bum Club site. :)

  5. Pingback: Album Club: January 2012 Selection, Over the Rhine’s The Trumpet Child at Rivers Are Damp

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