Lambchop – Showtunes review

It’s been over 20 years since the loose-knit collective Lamchop released Nixon, a work which brought the dappled alt. country of Nashvillian Kurt Wagner to prominence. Now with the perhaps unwanted burden of being a institution, over the last few releases the band’s associated members have now thinned to the point of zero, leaving him remaining as it’s centrifugal creative force.

Showtunes is meant to be as the veteran has described (playfully) a collection of songs which are in one of his familiarly skewhiff constructs ‘Show tunes for people who don’t like show tunes’. Most of it’s composition was via a string of unforeseen circumstances, from accidentally learning he could transform his guitar into MIDI piano outputs, to show cancellations and a growing suspicion that COVID trauma was dating other artist’s output.

The work here isn’t a rejection of that angst though per se – in places there are rusted wisps of beauty, the often cracked, weary vocals and sparkling lyrical prose meshed with jazzy tones and abstract electronica. A little slight at just over half an hour including a couple of instrumentals, there’s a nagging feeling that not everything on Showtunes is fully realised, but on closer The Last Benedict and the epically grand Fuku, Wagner is rewiring a Broadway of his own invention.

You can read the full review here.