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Featured Artist: Over The Rhine

December 12, 2010

There was so much excitement over our post about Ordinary Time’s Christmas album In the Town of David that I wanted to share some more really fantastic Christmas music.  Over the Rhine is well known for many of their 17 albums, but their Christmas CD Snow Angels is one of my favorites.  In fact, I would not hesitate to say that in the near future Snow Angels will be on ‘greatest Christmas album’ lists with the likes of Mannheim Steamroller, Vince Guaraldi and Bing Crosby.  Snow Angels weaves together  complex range of emotions, stories and images so that just about every mood and shade of Christmas is portrayed.

The New York Daily News writes about Snow Angels that:

it covers every emotional hue brought on by the day. They’ve nailed the particular ache of another year ending, when regret and gratitude do their sad and wondrous annual dance.  Hope and longing, sex and death all have their say in these songs. In “White Horse,” the singer dreams of an escape that seems far away. In “New Redemption Song,” there’s an admission of all that’s wrong in life, with a prayer it won’t always be so.  Bergquist’s high, quavering voice holds all the yearning and belief the songs require. She has the bluesy feel of a young Maria Muldaur, matched to the erudition of Eva Cassidy. The music of Detweiler sways lovingly between blues and jazz.

There is so much that could (and should) be said about Over The Rhine than simply their Christmas music.  But rather than write an essay here, allow me to point you to the excellent bio page and FAQ page on their website.  Also, check out Wes’ recent Thanksgiving themed post on Over The Rhine here on Transpositions.  Over The Rhine’s music is great for many holidays, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make another appearance around Valentine’s Day.

Finally, I want to leave you with some thoughts about – and the lyrics of – my favorite song on Snow Angels: “Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming).”  This song is something of a staple at our house, and during the Christmas season it is played at least once a day.  When it is played, it fills the room with the classic kind of Christmas cheer that one has come to expect from contemporary Christmas songs.  What is so alluring to me about this song is the way it indulges in the sentimentality and nostalgia of Christmas time, but still recognizes that things are not all right with the world.  There is a subtle and intriguing tension between the cheerful melody and words like “every new day brings one more tear.”  “Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming)” is a short, simple song that is enjoyable and fun to listen to, and that compellingly points towards hope and happy endings.

“Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming)”

So it’s been a long year
Every new day brings one more tear
Till there’s nothing left to cry

My, my how time flies
Like little children hiding their eyes
We’ll make it disappear
Let’s start a brand new year

Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Salvation army bells are ringing
Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Do you believe in angels singing
Darlin’ the snow is falling
Falling like forgiveness from the sky

If I could have anything
What would I want this new year to bring
Well, I’d want you here with me

Tear these thorns from my heart
Help the healing to start
Let’s set this old world free
Let’s start with you and me

For those interested, you can purchase Snow Angels here.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2010 12:05 am

    Their previous Christmas album The Darkest Night of the Year is also phenomenal…

  2. December 13, 2010 4:27 am

    I had the pleasure of being at a concert last fall with OTR. It was my introduction to them, and it was wonderful. This is the second post I’ve read tonight about this CD. You might enjoy the other post here: http://bit.ly/gVU8UB

  3. Jim permalink*
    December 13, 2010 9:27 am

    Joseph, thanks for mentioning The Darkest Night of the Year. I have known about it for some time, but I haven’t listened to it yet. I think I may need to add it to my Christmas list.

    Deidra, thanks for this link. It is great to read a post from someone else who loves Snow Angels.

    • December 13, 2010 9:45 am

      I second the recommendation for Darkest Night of the Year. It’s definitely in the top five of my favorite Christmas albums! Thanks for featuring Over the Rhine!

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