Kindred spirits: Bob Dylan, Van Dyke Parks, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Show: With Tift Merritt on Sunday at
the Birchmere. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
703-549-7500. www.birchmere.com. $29.50.
Short of calling it quits altogether, Over the Rhine couldn’t have maintained a lower profile over the past 20 years if it tried. But now, the Ohio-based folk-rock duo is enjoying a rare moment in the spotlight because of producer Joe Henry’s significant cachet and continuing support.
Henry oversaw the release of the band’s new album, “Meet Me at the Edge of the World,” a double-disc set that slowly unfolds with an understated, country-tinged charm. Wistful vocal harmonies, yearning lyrics and shimmering, mostly acoustic arrangements are accented by a curious array of instruments.
Some of the more evocative tunes are laced with musical interludes that wouldn’t sound out of a place on a Terrence Malick film soundtrack, but vocalist Karin Bergquist is such a soulful presence, even when whispering, that she has no problem making the lyrics count. Partner (and husband) Linford Detweiler is no match for her vocally, but when it comes to songwriting, they complement each other remarkably well, as the tracks “Earthbound Love Song” and “Against the Grain” illustrate. You won’t find any glaring miscues on the two discs, dubbed “Sacred Ground” and “Blue Jean Sky,” though the former offers more rewards.
Chances are “Meet Me at the Edge of the World” won’t put Over the Rhine over the top, career-wise. Still, an album this well crafted can’t help but swell the ranks of the duo’s ever-faithful followers.