Lambchop

Lambchop

Is A Woman

Merge

Kurt Wagner, who, for reasons unknown calls his musical output Lambchop, has hidden away in Nashville for the last few years making exceptional music. Nashville is a good place to hide when making quality music — who would suspect it? By gathering an ever-changing cast of contributors, Wagner has fashioned a music that is not quite country, not quite pop — OK, not quite definable. This alone is enough to warrant a listen. Last year’s Nixon, with its kitchen sink approach to instrumentation and theme, found a niche in many top ten lists — deservedly so.

The follow-up, Is A Woman reduces the amount of input, and in doing so, hones the Lambchop sound to its core, which is the songs and voice of Kurt Wagner. Gone are eclectic sounds of Nixon. In their place is the simple piano of Tony Crow, Wagner’s guitar, and soothing voice. By quieting down, he has made the work more compelling and in many cases, startling. With lyrics such as “The link between profound and pain/Covers you like Sherwin Williams,” Wagner seems somewhat like a younger, snottier Leonard Cohen. While his voice still trembles and chokes like Vic Chestnutt at times, it perfectly fits the sober, dark mood of the record — a record that will most likely follow Nixon into “best of” lists for 2002.

Merge Records: http://www.mergerecords.com

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