There’s a reason why husband-wife indie duo Over the Rhine have developed such a loyal cult following over nearly two decade: they keep putting out amazing music, and they keep putting a fresh spin on things. So it’s no surprise that the arrival of their latest, Meet Me At the Edge Of the World, was met with such eager anticipation—and I can tell you the double album is worth every bit of the buzz that surrounded its arrival.
Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist named their band after the historic district in Cincinnati where they lived, but for the past eight years they’ve made their home in an 1830s farmhouse in rural Ohio—and that place has largely inspired the songs on Edge of the World. Indeed, with the exception of the diversionary-but-satisfying blues of “Gonna Let My Soul Catch My Body,” this project carries a distinct Americana/country/folk feel compared to their earlier material, and even more so than their last landscape-inspired double album Ohio. The whole record practically screams yesteryear, from the Sides A,B,C and D packaging on the vinyl version of the album to the immediacy of the live-room feel (the whole project was recorded live in the studio inside of a week).
As to the record itself—in my opinion, it’s a watershed moment for the band, a record destined to be a historic point in a career already dotted by stellar moments. For one thing, one of the reasons for the fan fanaticism surrounding Meet Me At the Edge of the World is the fact that the fans had such a direct hand in its production. While an increasing number of artists (including label artists) are now turning to fan-funding sites like Kickstarter, Over the Rhine got the funds for this record directly from the fans through a campaign on their own website, making it one of their most organic projects to date.
Secondly—fans are going to notice a shift in the duo’s sound, in particular, a stronger male vocal presence. That’s right—Linford Detweiler is sharing vocals with Karin Bergquist. While Bergquist has long been considered the primary vocal power of OTR, on Edge of the World the two spend a great deal of time harmonizing through the songs, and Detweiler even carries a solo or two. The result is something vaguely reminiscent of The Civil Wars (adding even more to the Americana feel) and sounding at times like a whole new experience.
And thirdly—there’s the music itself. If you know OTR, you know I don’t have to tell you to expect consistent, well-crafted lyrics over solid arrangements and musicianship. Over a track list spanning 19 songs, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that isn’t worth your time or doesn’t fit. There’s already a bar of excellence set by this band, and this record stands as one of their best on the music alone.
So the wait is over, the record is out, and a happy fan base is breathing collective sighs of satisfaction. Simply put, Over the Rhine have outdone themselves; Meet Me At the Edge of the World is an instant classic.