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The Darkest Night of the Year

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Album Review

This wholly unconventional Christmas album is unflinching its evocation of both the shadows and light of the holiday season. The outgrowth of a series of late-night holiday concerts, The Darkest Night of the Year features quietly melancholy arrangements of both traditional carols and OTR originals. The album is predominantly acoustic, with large doses of bittersweet cello, guitar and piano. There are also a pair of oddly appropriate, experimental electric guitar instrumentals. In the liner notes, songwriter Linford Detweiler tells of his childhood Christmases: melancholy, rural affairs with family members missing. This music echoes the feeling he describes, of gathering in an old church building trying to create some warmth, beauty and hope, while outside the year dies a cold, dark death. The cover illustration shows an angel blaring a horn in the ear of an unsuspecting couch potato. That distinctly T.S. Eliot-esque ambivalence about death and rebirth (both spiritual and seasonal) also pervades these songs. The CD is dedicated to "anyone wrestling with their own dark angel this Christmas," and for all their hope and light, the songs acknowledge that darkness and pain don't always take the holidays off.

Customer Reviews

A Danny Darko Christmas

Wowie Zowie, folks! A lost gem hiding itself in the grass is how you can think of this album. Call it a Danny Darko Christmas, Christmas Grinch Music, Zombie Choir Music, or, as this Album titles it, ‘The Darkest Night of the Year’. However you want to think of it, this album of melancholy holiday songs strums the heart strings in such a way to remind us of all the souls out there who weep over what has been lost and cannot be regained. It’s a keeper, folks. As Solomon said, ‘The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning’. ‘The First Noel’, ‘Coal Train’, and ‘A Little Lower Than the Angels’ really do set this type of mood for the album very well indeed. Five Stars.


Formed: 1989 in Cincinnati, OH

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Over the Rhine had already developed a large and intensely loyal following in their native Cincinnati, Ohio before they independently released their first two albums, Till We Have Faces (1991) and Patience (1992). Their music, which they aptly dubbed "post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop," is difficult to pigeonhole. They have been compared to 10,000 Maniacs, the Innocence Mission, U2, and Shawn Colvin, but the band's personality seems to owe more to its literary influences (which...
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The Darkest Night of the Year, Over the Rhine
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