Aaron Dessner, one of the founding member of the National, in a way, was always outshined by their lead singer Matt Berninger, but in reality, he is not only the musical director of the band, it his studio in which they now record their disks and he is the go-to producer of the day.
Dessner is also a band member of Big Red Machine, which no one heard about until a week or so ago when Taylor Swift sang lead on their new single. Dessner also happened to co-write and produce most of Swift's last two albums that were released during Covid lock down. He also produced a song by Michael Stipe in 2020.
Big Red Machine is a fluid band. There are many artists to traipse in and out, making appearances and then leave. But the heart is Dessner, two bandmates from the National (including his twin brother) and the leader of Bon Iver (who also appears on Taylor Swift's records that Dessner produced). It's all very incestuous.
But Dessner gets the call out this week, because he has never really taken lead vocal on anything before. So BRM has a song called "the Ghost of Cincinnati" - a nod to the National's home town. There are the obvious (well, if you're from Ohio, maybe) references to Over the Rhine and the Covington bridge - which takes you from Cinci to........you guessed it, Covington.......Kentucky.
The song is fine, but it's all been done before - including the vein Dessner took Swift. But it comes eerily close to Year of the Family's "Hero" or so many Jack Johnson songs. But it's not offensively bad or anything.