Mr. M (Bonus Track Version)

Mr. M (Bonus Track Version)

Though based in Nashville and knowledgeable about country music, Lambchop wanders through musical genres with affection but no allegiance. It's all about cross-pollination, about defying expectations and uncovering each situation’s emotional truth. Leader Kurt Wagner does this with an intelligence that never negates the music’s feel. Mark Nevers handles the orchestration, setting up a Sinatra moment on the opening cut, "If Not I'll Just Die," which Wagner blows open with a four-letter expletive. There's a melancholy mood throughout, in part due to the suicide of Wagner's friend and occasional collaborator Vic Chesnutt (whose The Salesman and Bernadette album is required listening). "Gone Tomorrow" is surely (if not directly) about Chesnutt, inspired somewhat by loss and grief. Lyrics often imply more than they state, drifting from literal meaning and sparking images that further impress the long night of "2B2," "Nice Without Mercy,” and "Buttons." Like similar acts from Leonard Cohen and Lee Hazlewood to Tindersticks, Lambchop creates a nocturnal world that can't be denied.

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