Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Live From Nowhere Vol. III
Artist: Over the Rhine
Label: Independent, via http://www.overtherhine.com
Time: 12 Tracks / 55 mins.
Since 2006 Over the Rhine have compiled an annual limited edition best-of-the-year live highlights disc and Volume Three reflects touring their latest ’proper’ album, The Trumpet Child, with five of the twelve tracks coming from that release. Because that collection was a fun, light-touch celebration of American music across the years, Live From Nowhere, Volume Three has fewer deep lyrics than normal as it blurs genres across the disc, with accents of jazz, country, blues and cabaret all tinting the sound.
Opening the CD is a short version of the old spiritual “Motherless Child,” slowed down for maximum effect, which starts à capella and is then joined by a jazzy bass and piano. Karin Bergquist’s vocal performance smoulders, justifying this track’s inclusion as a highlight of the year. The mix of suffering and spirituality continues in the old and hymn-like “Angel Band,” re-worked by Bergquist for last year’s Snow Angels tour, not knowing that she would sing it at her father-in-law’s funeral later in the year.
“Hush Now” and the rather average Santa-seducing blues “North Pole Man” both return from a place in Volume Two. This time round, the waltz-time “Hush Now” includes some very enjoyable tongue-in-cheek interplay between electric violin and piano. The live setting allows for some pauses that give the song more power when the players come back in.
Other tracks from Trumpet Child also tend to be different enough from the studio disc to be worth fans’ money, although “Nothing is Innocent” was ideal enough originally, and so is fortunately left fairly untampered-with here. “I’m On a Roll” has a more shuffling rhythm on this collection and has again picked up some jaunty fiddle work. “Who’m I Kiddin’ But Me” is extended to nearly nine minutes, as all the band take solos. The idea is welcome, but the drum section is too long and heavy. A sequence of crisp, jazzy extended drum fills between solos might have fitted better. “Don’t Wait for Tom” – their morning-after-a-Tom-Waits-gig song – is the only one on this set with Detweiler singing, and he also does a fine job of extending the piano parts, making it a six-minute piece.
The standouts for me include “Drunkard’s Prayer,” which still aches with passion (as did the whole of that album) and has you stopping to pause and feel the emotion. Linford Detweiler’s piano plays as expressively as Bergquist’s vocals, using a deft, light, but assertive touch. At only four minutes, it leaves you wishing that this was one of the extended tracks. Bergquist’s voice is particularly warm and clear on “Snow Angel,” a tale of a love stolen by war. The collection ends with another highlight, “Latter Days,” a band classic from at least as far back as 1996, when it opened their independent collection, Good Dog, Bad Dog. It still sounds fresh and poignant here. Often, the band’s work is given character by extra instrumentation, but songs of this calibre work brilliantly with just the eloquence of Detweiler’s piano and Bergquist’s soulful phrasing.
The idea of a limited edition live compilation might sound somewhat homespun, but this is a professional, very well-rounded disc with plenty of variety. As often with OtR, pain is intertwined with pleasure, and spirituality with the sensual, so bringing all of life to their music. Several killer melodies cap off a superb disc that is well worth catching before it goes to MP3.