The truism that bands lose their creative spark after a few records doesn’t apply to Over the Rhine. In fact, twenty years into OTR’s recording career The Long Surrender actually ups the ante, with Grammy- winning producer Joe Henry providing the perfect artistic and aural counterpart to the band’s increasingly roots-oriented approach, in which country, folk, gospel, and jazz melodies benefit from leaving, as the liner notes suggest, “the edges wild.” The band stumbling out of the gate on “The King Knows How” and the unpolished tenor sax on “All My Favorite People” add character that would be lost were everything neat and tidy. This is not to suggest, however, that Surrender ain’t pretty. The country ditty “Oh Yeah By the Way” is so catchy I checked the writer creds to make sure it wasn’t a cover of an old radio hit. “Days Like This” is a cover—and an impressive one, of a song by Kim Taylor. And on “There’s a Bluebird in My Heart” Karen Bernquist sings a jazz melody so sweetly the bird in question may feel a tinge of envy. The 180-gram double LP offers warmer sound and cover photographs by Michael Wilson.