Over The Rhine’s dark but truthful lyrics of winter’s big holiday strike a very different chord than the oft-times artificial songs of the season.
Blood Oranges In The Snow
Artist: Over The Rhine
Label: Great Speckled Dog
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Duration: 9 tracks, 37:46
The long awaited second release from the 2012/2013 fan sponsored two album drive has finally arrived. And, like Over The Rhine’s previous two Christmas-based albums, there is a dark honesty in the lyrics and melody. Much like their recent albums, OTR continues to journey further and further into a country-blues sound.
The album’s namesake, “Blood Oranges In The Snow” is the most upbeat and OTR-classic sounding of the nine offerings with Karin Bergquist’s sultry vocals leading the message. “Another Christmas” has Linford Detweiler on lead vocals with a melancholic sound better suited to a Tim Burton soundtrack. Detweiler again takes the lead vocals with some success in “My Father’s Body”, the dark story of Christmas and a long lost broken father / son relationship. “If We Make It Through December” again shows the sorrowful side of Christmas for so many who encounter economic and other woes.
“Let It Fall” is a piano lead story of letting go with Bergquist’s vocals leading the story with well mixed harmony in the refrain. A slightly comedic moment follows with “Snowbirds” telling of those wishing to celebrate the holidays in equatorial bliss with those they love. This song shines with great vocals and slide, well-written lyrics matching well-written melody and a terrific rhythm section. On the other side of this moment is “Bethlehem” with a very sorrowful tone. Fine guitar picking matches the fast and tight light lyrics of “First Snowfall”. Finally, “New Year’s Song” showcases the fine writing of Detweiler against the smooth and sensual vocals of Bergquist with a slight return to a Christmas classic buoyed by strings in the songs interlude to climax – the heart of OTR.
Over The Rhine’s dark but truthful lyrics of winter’s big holiday strike a very different chord than the oft-times artificial songs of the season. This is the good point of Blood Oranges In The Snow. The downside is their continued walk down the country-blues path and dark lyrical stories. With this said, OTR continues to have a unique sound, great musicianship, and an ever-growing fan base.
Scott S Mertens