For husband-and-wife duo Over the Rhine, The Long Surrender has been a long time coming. Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler are well-versed industry vets whose music has undoubtedly progressed in the 20 years since Till We Have Faces, the team’s independently released (and decidedly ‘90s) debut. But, with a listen to its latest disc, one thing remains clear: There’s always room to grow.
“The Laugh of Recognition,” the ballroom-meets-brawny-dive opener, gives a slinky and folky – but disparate – glimpse into the set’s subsequent tracks. Bergquist cautions, “Come on boys, It’s time to settle down, What do you think you’ll gain, from all this runnin’ round?” She continues, “Everybody has a dream that they will never own.” Each candid quip offers an ostensible, biting nod to the song’s title, playing strange partner to the song’s lush layers, her milk-and-honey vocals, her long, distinct drawl. Likewise, lilting accusations and dragging rhythms collide on “The Sharpest Blade” and “Soon.”
But this trio of misfits is quickly forgiven with an upbeat bent (“Rave On”), a Lucinda Williams appearance (“Undamned”), an Elvis tribute (“The King Knows How”), and a return to the roots that should have been (“Only God Can Save Us Now”). The melancholy of the Bukowski-inspired “There’s a Bluebird in My Heart” and blues of “All My Favorite People” bring the disc to a somewhat sad, but more cohesive, end.
The Long Surrender is out now on Great Speckled Dog Records.