Quick Review (LP): Till We Have Faces by Over the Rhine


Over the Rhine
Till We Have Faces
Scampering Songs; 1991

My Rating: C (51/100)

Best Tracks: "Eyes Wide Open", "Like a Radio", "And Can It Be",
"Sea and Sky"

A long time ago in a coffee shop far, far away…

NOTES

  • Let’s just be honest – "Eyes Wide Open", while catchy, sounds extremely dated to the "college rock" scene of the late 80’s/early 90’s.
  • "Someday" showcases the thing that makes this album stand out – the guitar work of Ric Hordinski. Otherwise, Linford’s not playing piano, and Karin sounds guarded and insecure.
  • "Like a Radio" hints at the kind of intimacy the band would be capable of well down the road. Pretty good.
  • "Iron Curtain" = kind of creepy.
  • "Cast Me Away" is a nice little vocal passage.
  • "And Can It Be" is one of the album’s highlights. A little mandolin thrown in for effect. Muy bueno.
  • Man, if "Gentle Wounds" don’t sound like "What I Am" then philosophy is not, in fact, a walk on the slippery rocks.
  • At times, Ms. Bergquist kinda sounds like Maria McKee. But she also sounds like Enya too. Weird.
  • "If I’m Drowning" just sort of slips by.
  • "Sea and Sky" is peppy. Another album highlight. That guitar lead reminds me of Belly. Coulda seen this being a radio hit back in 92 or 93.
  • There was this other, coffee house funk side to OTR back in the 90’s. The live cut "Fly Dance" is an excellent example of that. It also tells me that OTR have always been a live band.
  • "Paul and Virginia" is pretty, but nothing particularly special.
  • Oh goodness – the track is called "Ubiquitous Hands" – I had to look that word up. That’s a mighty big word. Very literati. Sort of a sleepy tune, but not bad for what it is.
  • "Genius of Water" closes things out with very little spark. Pretty forgettable.
  • Thankfully, I have 20 years perspective on this record.
  • What a radically different band this is from the Over the Rhine of today. Linford’s piano is nowhere to be found, Karin sounds measured and out of breath at times, and the star of the show is the guitar work of Ric Hordinski. I’m sure real OTR fans love this stuff, but I didn’t stumble upon the band until Ohio was released, so I’m not going to pretend to dig this. I’ll probably never listen to it again, but there a handful of catchy tunes here. Probably for completists only, and perhaps also for those who were there when it all went down. Me? I was 11 at the time, and listening to Guns n’ Roses.
  • For a more appreciative take, see the AMG review. “Later releases are stronger and more confident, but what they gain in confidence and surefootedness they lose in freshness and unpredictability.”

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (3.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

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