Over the Rhine
Meet Me At The Edge Of The World
(Great Speckled Dog)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
This fan financed double studio set is divided by disc one subtitled Sacred Ground, and the other named Blue Jean Sky. They were both recorded in three day stints a month apart by longtime couple vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist and multi-instrumentalist Linford Detweiler. Liner notes explain that the songs were inspired by the land around their farm in southern Ohio and, as you might expect with that concept, the music is primarily acoustic, rustic and low key. The 18 originals and a lovely cover of the Band’s “It Makes No Difference” clock in at a total of about 70 minutes, so they could have fit on a single platter. Thematically and musically there isn’t much difference in approach, but the two short programs work because the ballad nature of the majority of the tunes might seem monotonous if digested at one time.
Bergquist is in wonderfully relaxed voice and the open production by Joe Henry allows her vocals—a mix of Sheryl Crow, Rickie Lee Jones and even Billie Holiday at times—plenty of room to explore the bucolic shadows and light of the material. Mandolin, accordion, autoharp and upright bass create an atmosphere that feels like you’re sitting in a rocking chair on the couple’s old wooden porch. A few more bluesy torch songs on the order of the sexy “Baby This is Nowhere,” the gospel stomp of “Gonna Let My Soul Catch My Body” and the earthy “Sacred Ground” would have helped vary the mood, which, with its restrained acoustic guitar base, can get repetitious.
But Bergquist is such a commanding, distinctive and versatile singer and tunes such as the haunting, ghostly ballad “Wait” so vivid in their imagery, the effect is of a veteran married couple at ease with each other, their talents and the environment that helped create this stirring and emotionally poignant album.
Read Michael Berick’s take