Lambchop hails from Nashville and claims to play a "refined, and redefined" style of country music, but the songs the band creates on its second album, How I Quit Smoking, have more in common with Brit crooners the Tindersticks than Chet Atkins and Billy Sherrill (whom the Lambchop members claim as heroes). Boasting 13 players on this album, Lambchop feels more like an art collective on a mission of enlightenment than a country band bent on AM airplay. Still, with subtlely threads of clarinet, sax, organ, and even a full string section integrated into the mix alongside a double-necked lap steel and an impressive lineup of vintage guitars, the music is so lush, lovely, and thoroughly hypnotic you can see their point. The country element lies buried in the subtle rhythms and melodies, surfacing in the quiet moan of the lap steel or the melancholic flutter of the strings. Spooky as often as it is soothing, Lambchop's music may not be the fireside countrypolitan of Atkins or Sherrill – I don't think either would put up with the babbling rhymes of "Smuckers," the sinister guitars that mark "The Militant," or the existential undercurrents of "The Scary Caroler".
A minimalist masterpiece a million miles from Nashville country, Kurt Wagner's latest Lambchop album pursues the electronica soundbed and vocoder vocals first employed on FLOTUS. The chilly sheen of its glitchy synth surfaces soon gives way to an envelopng warmth, enhanced by Wagner's crackly vocal, always teetering on the edge of distortion, its electronic soundscapes enhanced by spectral piano melodies, endlessly inventive bass and intiutive drumming from his trio of sidemen. With its melancholic mood and lyrics rooted in reflection and regret, this could be the birth of an entirely new genre - electro-jazz noir.
Lambchop have made a number of outstanding albums as they've evolved from "Nashville's most f–ked-up country band" to a singular chamber pop ensemble during a career that lasted nearly two decades, but one of their finest works is not really a Lambchop album at all. Vic Chesnutt recruited Lambchop to serve as his backing band on the 1998 album The Salesman and Bernadette, and the results were a marvelous fusion of the group's broad but emotionally intimate approach and Chesnutt's witty, skewed, and perceptive gifts as a songwriter. Chesnutt and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner seemed like kindred spirits, fellow Southerners who married oblique yet telling poetry to melodies that were strong yet fluidly graceful, and it should surprise no one that Wagner was hit hard by Chesnutt's death in late 2009. Lambchop's first studio project since Chesnutt's passing, 2012's Mr. M, is dedicated to Wagner's friend and collaborator, and though the songs don't deal explicitly with Chesnutt, there's a sense of sorrow in these songs that's deeper than what we've come to expect from Lambchop, infused with an air of reflection and regret that's impossible to miss.
An alternative country band from Nashville, Tennessee. The band is known for its resistance to easy genre classification and its ever changing line up, which revolves around front man - Kurt Wagner, who's distinctive song writing evokes the characteristic moods of the bands style.
With ’This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)’ Lambchop continue to establish themselves as forerunners and innovators of what was once called Alt Country. Their sound has morphed to encompass multiple genres, blending folk songwriting with the tones of urban soul. Following on from the pioneering sounds of ‘Flotus' (2017), ’This (Is what I wanted to tell you)’ showcases Lambchop at a new peak in their career, whilst still retaining the ingredients of their classic albums. ’This’ is brimming with ideas, songs and hooks. A huge influence on the new direction is Matthew McCaughan (of Bon Iver and Hiss Golden Messenger), who produced and co-wrote large parts of the album together with Kurt Wagner.
It's a safe bet to expect the unexpected in regards to any new Lambchop effort, but the cryptically titled (and beautifully packaged) What Another Man Spills is the band's most consistently surprising and deliriously eclectic outing to date, with new twists around every corner. While it's their loveliest record since How I Quit Smoking, that album's countrypolitan gauze is largely a thing of the past, replaced here by a dreamy, jazz-like patina which proves a remarkably versatile backdrop not only for Kurt Wagner's originals but for a vast range of covers, from Dump's "It's Not Alright" to Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love (Love Song)." The latter is easily the most jaw-dropping track on What Another Man Spills, with the group easily slipping into the song's soulful groove without a hint of irony, not even in Wagner's amazingly Prince-like falsetto; a later cover of the Frederick Knight smash "I've Been Lonely for So Long," while less surprising, is no less engaging, further solidifying Lambchop's growing debt to the Stax/Volt sound. Where the album's jumble of styles and offbeat covers might seem self-indulgent coming from any other band, Lambchop somehow makes it all work with their wit, style, and intelligence intact – even five records in, they never cease to amaze.