Over the Rhine,
Drunkard's Prayer
(Back Porch, 2005)

Drunkard's Prayer, Over the Rhine's ninth album, was created in husband-and-wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist's Cincinnati, Ohio, living room, a familiar locale befitting of this intoxicating collection of deeply confessional, intimate songs.

The pared-down arrangements, featuring only acoustic guitars, piano, upright bass, a few horns and some minimal percussion, allow Bergquist to showcase her vocal versatility. She can turn on a dime, going from melancholy and throaty on "I Want You to Be My Love," the album's stunning, poignant opener, to sassy and sultry on "Hush Now (Stella's Tarentella)" to soulful and yearning on "Little Did I Know," which has all the makings of a modern-day torch song.

Bergquist's captivating voice may be the star of this album, but she doesn't go it alone. With a little help from Pete Hicks' downplayed but purposeful guitar, she imbues the entrancing "Born" with a wistful honesty that suits a song about everyday dramas and learning to laugh through tears. David Henry's subtle cello provides a lush backdrop on "Spark" while Detweiler's sensitive piano adapts to the nuances of each piece.

The country-inspired rocker "Lookin' Forward" is perhaps the most forgettable song on the album, a straightforward tune that leaves your head as soon as it's over. Detweiler and Bergquist's original compositions are so compelling, the standard -- though still enjoyable -- cover of "My Funny Valentine" seems slightly pedestrian among Over the Rhine's much more inventive self-penned works.

- Rambles
written by Celeste Miller
published 9 July 2005

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