I actually picked up this CD at last year’s Cornerstone Festival, and had hoped to write about it awhile ago. But as these things usually go, the CD disappeared into my (ever-increasing, it seems) stack of “to be reviewed some time in the future” CDs. I hope that doesn’t create some preconceived notions in your mind about the quality of this CD, because it’s far from forgettable. Of course, if you’re at all familiar with Detweiler that shouldn’t be an issue anyways. As one of the main forces behind Over the Rhine, he’s proven time and again to a very poetic songwriter.
Given the effusive nature of his lyrics, it might be easy to overlook Detweiler’s skill as a musician and composer. But I Don’t Think There’s No Need to Bring Nothin’ is an instrumental affair, so there’s nothing to distract one from these songs. These piano pieces were originally composed as accompaniment to a showing of Michael Wilson’s landscape photography… well, that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. This music is perfectly suited to some sort of artistic endeavor.
But Detweiler’s skills aside, what lends even greater credence to the humble beauty of these recordings are their “lo-fi” quality. You hear it all — Detweiler’s breathing, floorboards squeaking beneath the piano, the dog walking across the floor, and the keys brushing against eachother. But whatever the production lacks in fidelity, it more than makes up in its sheer “real-ness.” There’s an immediacy here, as if you’re sitting in the room, maybe even on the bench right next to Detweiler, as his fingers glide over and coax the ivories (a word like “tickle” seems a gross understatement here).
A surface listen might dredge up comparisons to some listless New Age pap. While some songs have a playful, even lightweight feel to them, this is no “inspirational” music, so banish the Yanni comparisons. There’s a depth, often dark and mysterious, that flows around the base of each song. It’s in the quiet, assured beauty that fills “She Lost the Feeling in the Ends of Her Fingers.” Or in the way “A Sort of Reminder” changes without warning, and yet so naturally, revealing a plaintive melody that summons the autumn skies.
To truly appreciate “Weak in the Knees Across the Sky,” you might want to pull out the old photo albums and reminisce for awhile. And that autumnal feeling, that sense of transition and all of the hesitation and wonder it contains resurfaces in the graceful “I Should Have Kept Going.” In fact, “graceful” accurately sums up the whole album. Each song flows and curves like the forgotten rivers and country roads that trace rustic landscapes. Detweiler’s playing is restrained; each note feels carefully placed, but never calculated. And careful study will reveal mile upon mile of hidden country.