Friday, September 14, 2007

less sweat and blood; more skin

so, i know i've written effusively about this little band called over the rhine at least one other time on this blog, so i don't want to sound like a 14-year old girl here who thinks she wants to have justin timberlake's babies. all i really want to say in this post is that i am thankful to the God of the universe that linford detweiler and karin berquist found each other, got married, and continue to make music that inspires, confuses, excites, moves, challenges, silences, and otherwise affects me. i will now find other ways to say what i have just now told you. that is what a writer does, i guess.

for me, at its best, writing is less pragmatic and more poetic. it has its function, of course, but it is also art. the same is true for music. and, in my opinion, the art that spins off the cds of over the rhine is the very best kind of art. and they have once again put word and music together in a collection of songs; their new album is called the trumpet child and came out a few weeks ago.

the album starts off with a song that sets the stage for the rest of the album, and could just as easily serve as a fitting introduction to the entire catalog of otr's music. karin's soulful and angelic voice starts off the album with, "i don't want to waste your time with music you don't need...i've got a different scar for every song and blood left still to bleed."

rarely has over the rhine wasted anyone's time. when they invest in a song, they invest their whole selves, body and soul, sweat and blood. they have sung about suicide and deep loss. sweat and blood. they have sung about nearly losing their relationship and the redemption that followed. sweat and blood. they have sung about the devestation of the land, the detonation of bombs, and the desperation for God. sweat and blood.

but this time its less sweat and blood and more skin. while their last studio album seemed to be an almost uncomfortably honest look at their marriage and its too-close-for-comfort brush with divorce, this newest offering seems to be an almost uncomfortably honest celebration of their love, especially as expressed in the physical. in short, it is a sexy little album.

in i'm on a roll karin sings, "tastes sweet on my lips, tender on my tongue, all the night's ahead of me, oh the night is young." whether this is metaphor or not, it drips of sultry sexuality, as does a great deal of the album (trouble, entertaining thoughts, let's spend the day in bed).

one might wonder why over the rhine, a band known for marking every song with a scar, would make an album celebrating love and sex in the context of a culture that is nothing if not oversexed. does this album represent a jaunt into a land of saccharin-sweet songs and easy listening, just a momentary lapse for a band accustomed to putting out authentic and moving art? or is it an intentional celebration of what is good about our love, our bodies, our sexuality, and our expression? after all, don't forget that they started us off by telling us they don't want to waste our time with songs we don't need.

there are too many songs we don't need. just check your mtv playlist (actually, check your mtv-hits playlist since mtv really doesn't have time for music anymore). the last thing we need is another song about how rich you are and your sexual prowess. in a context of a musical world that celebrates sex not for its beauty within the context of a committed relationship but for its use as a commodity and power status, the trumpet child has something both radical and profound to offer, particularly to evangelicals and moralists who feel the world is falling apart: sex is good. when its right, it is beautiful, and we shouldn't ignore that. because it is an expression of the kind of love we were made for, the kind of love that Christ shows us as his bride.

in this beautiful little album, a substantial addition to the otr repertoire. it isn't a waste of anyone's time, but an artful and playful reminder that the trumpet child will lift his glass, his bride now leaning in at last, his final aim to fill with joy the earth that man all but destroyed.

all i reallywant to say is that i am thankful to the God of the universe that linford detweiler and karin berquist found each other, got married, and continue to make music that inspires, confuses, excites, moves, challenges, silences and otherwise affects me.



julie said...

amen, brother!

mary said...

and i am thankful that my brother introduced me to such exciting, inspiring, and moving artists.

Crafty P said...

and I am thankful to your brother, my friend, for introducing me to them as well. They are hands down my absolute favorite band in the universe for all the reasons stated above.

I, unfortunately, still do not own this album and julie reminded me that I still do not own it on my blog the other day (thanks for reminder, j, and thanks for stopping by!).

I hope karin and linford happen upon your lovely ode to their music and this album!

Erin said...

i was wondering when i'd hear your take on this album. we've had it a few weeks, but i haven't been able to give it the devotion i normally do. however, it is now in the car cd player and will be played over and over until i get a real feel for it and make up my mind. but your take on it makes me want to go out for a long drive. i'll look forward to some time in the car...