Lambchop: Nixon (Reissue) (Merge) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, January 16th, 2021  

Lambchop

Nixon (Reissue)

Merge

May 29, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Lambchop's music is a beautiful, surprisingly hard-to-categorize mix of folk, blues, jazz, and lounge music. At the time of Nixon, originally released in 2000, the band consisted of 14 members, and in addition enlisted the Nashville String Machine and a choir. All this to make a rainy-day album that gently floats by and rarely rises to the kind of crashing climax one would expect from such a large ensemble.

Nixon, as Lambchop's most recognizable album, kicked off Merge's year of deluxe reissues, but there's not a ton of deluxe material here. It's simply the original album and a bonus disc containing a 1998 live solo performance by Kurt Wagner, the band's versatile frontman, entitled White Sessions 1998: How I Met Cat Power. That's not the point here, though. The point is that this is an album that sounds timeless, and if it hits you in the right mood, it can leave you lying motionless on the couch, watching the leaves or the cars or the raindrops out the window and thinking that each part is essential. It's Wagner at his most soulful, utilizing his high falsetto to give each song a playful touch to complement the moodiness. "Up With People," the album's high point that earned a Zero 7 remix, is stunning.

As for How I Met Cat Power, the five spare solo arrangements presented here (four of which were later recorded for Nixon) are haunting and gorgeous. To hear "The Book I Haven't Read" without the string ensemble, for example, gives it a new perspective and perhaps even more introspection. All five of these songs show Wagner's talent as a performer; without the 14 or more musicians to back him up, he still clearly feels the music and treats it with respect and class. These feelings are the reasons this reissue exists, and hopefully it'll introduce younger listeners to Lambchop's unique, lush output. (www.lambchop.net)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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