Over The Rhine has never been lumped in with the alt.-country scene, even though many Americana fans have embraced the act. However, Eric Heywood's pedal steel guitar work - particularly on this album's title track, ought to be mighty appealing to country music fans. Also, the group's reverent cover of Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December," one of the best and saddest Christmas songs of all time, will also win the Ohio act points with country fans. This one also sports some mighty pretty 'n' sad steel guitar work.
Many folks' first attraction to Over The Rhine's music was Karen Bergquist's heavenly vocals and Linford Detweiler's smart lyrics, both of which are on ample display here. Detweiler gives Haggard a run for his money in the lyrical sadness category with "My Father's Body," which begins with the line, "My father's body lies beneath the snow," which likely won't be sung a lot during drunken company holiday parties. It's one of six songs Detweiler either wrote or co-wrote on this nine-song collection. It's as much a meditation on the winter season, as it is a Christmas album. But has The Hag has written about Christmas, it takes place in "the coldest part of winter."
This is a beautiful little project, which just happens to take place during the cold season.