“I don’t want to waste your time with music you don’t need,” sing Karin Bergquist at the beginning of Over the Rhine’s new album The Trumpet Child.

No worries, Karin.

We need this kind of glory, passion, and delight in the world.

Believe the hype. In some aspects, The Trumpet Child is the best Over the Rhine album ever.

Production. Instrumentation. Class. Style. Karin wraps her tongue around these lyrics like she’s savoring dark chocolate ice cream, and her voice is like a fine red wine. (Okay, that’s not the most original metaphor, but doctors will tell you that red wine is good for you if you have it with dark chocolate, so….) Lyrically, it’s lighter fare than what their fans have come to expect… the meter tips in favor of songs written for cleverness, pleasure and play here, rather than the spiritual questing and relationship wrangling that has dominated previous records.

But hey, after the hardship chronicled in the blues of their last studio record, Drunkard’s Prayer, The Trumpet Child is a well-deserved party record, celebrating all of the good stuff in life: sex, jazz, Shel Silverstein, Tom Waits, Easter Sunday Morning… it’s all here.

But man oh man, the album leaves me wanting more. In the very best ways. I want a second disc full of songs like these. They spoiled us rotten with that double-album Ohio a few years back. It’s hard to accept that this release is over in less than 42 minutes. I’m glad I’ve got tickets to both Seattle shows in September. It’s gonna take that much to satiate my appetite for This Year’s Model of Over the Rhine. Do I sound greedy? Hey, Karin herself declares, right here on this record, “When it comes to wanting what’s real / There’s no such thing as greed.”

In some cases, the individual songs leave me wanting more. I wanted the title track to keep going and going. I predict it’s going to become The Favorite Over the Rhine Song for many of their fans. I heard them “try it out” way last August, with just voice and piano, and it was awesome; hearing what they do with it here, well… it’s going to achieve unforgettable moments of sacred glory at their future shows.

Oh, and what do you know: Linford Detweiler gets to ramble his way through a song that his fans will love even more than “Jack’s Valentine.” I hope “Don’t Wait for Tom” pleases Tom Waits, because it is one heckuva tribute, running over with references to Waits not only in the lyrics but in Linford’s rhythmic delivery too. Linford’s piano performances are especially flirtatious and sprightly this time around, and he strikes up some combustible chemistry with the jazzy horn ensembles and guitars. It’s a reinvention for Over the Rhine that will have listeners thinking of songwriters from Cole Porter to Portishead’s Beth Gibbons.

I’ve only heard the album through once. Anne and I lit candles and savored the experience, which is our ritual for first experiences with new Over the Rhine material. And although I’ve been living with live performances of about half of these songs for close to a year now, I’ve found the experience so intense and concentrated that I’m waiting until tomorrow to listen again.

If The Trumpet Child doesn’t catapult Over the Rhine to the kind of acclaim and attention they’ve so long deserved, well, it’s certainly not their fault. Those critics who think their fans make too much of them are going to have a tough time dismissing this one. It may not be super-sized, but hallelujah, it’s a classic.

Tune in tomorrow night for the live webcast of the entire album! Check their website for details. Otherwise, you’ll probably be waiting until AUGUST 21.

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