Nashville's ever evolving group of musicians/friends known as Lambchop have been honing their craft for over 10 years now and are known for being the quietest 14 member band on the planet. "Is A Woman" is a subtly beautiful and haunting work of sparse melodies and emotionally rich storytelling, leaving aside the big band sould of their previous album, Nixon, for quieter piano-lounge-type arrangements.
Is a Woman
represents another reinvention for the ever-evolving Kurt Wagner and company: this time out they assume the sound of a late-night piano bar, and the results--utterly cool and completely irony-free--are thrilling. The songs are carried by pianist Tony Crow and stripped of their familiar brass and strings; Wagner's guitar is the primary rhythm instrument. Certain touchstones of Lambchop's sound remain--Paul Niehaus on steel guitar, Paul Burch
on vibes, Deanna Varagona
on baritone sax--but they appear infrequently, and in shadowy form. Throughout, Wagner's clipped phrasing and brilliant, confounding lyrics are the focus; his vocals are front and center, dredged up out of the orchestral bed that buried them on recent discs, and entirely forsaking falsetto. This may not be soul music--at least not in the Memphis-sound sense of that word that applied to the band's preceding albums, Nixon
and What Another Man Spills
--but it is deeply soulful. --Anders Smith Lindall