The Bible

The Bible

Kurt Wagner’s Lambchop project was once the standard-bearer for fusions of country and indie rock, but over the years, it has become more unpredictable: By 2016’s Flotus, the Nashville musician was submerging his voice in watery vocoder, and on 2019’s This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You) he spread on a thick layer of synths and drum machines. After the quasi-ambient diversions of 2021’s Showtunes, The Bible ventures even further afield. In its opening song, you’ll find ruminative piano, horns, strings, a sudden detour into classical music, digital glitches, and Wagner’s voice freshly stripped of artifice, all in the service of a pensive portrait of his aging father—some of the most moving songwriting in Lambchop’s catalog. Produced by Minneapolis’ Andrew Broder and Ryan Olson, frequent Bon Iver collaborators, The Bible offers new surprises at every turn, like the disco-house groove and trance synths of “Little Black Boxes,” or the jazzy drum ’n’ bass of “Whatever, Mortal,” or the Lil Jon-styled “hey!” that goes tearing through the placid waters of “Daisy,” a sound so out of place you wonder if you’ve imagined it. Along the way, he considers the George Floyd riots on “Police Dog Blues” and mourns the late rapper The Gift of Gab on “A Major Minor Drag.” The closing “That’s Music” even features quotes from Tommie Smith, an Olympic runner who raised the Black Power fist from the winners’ podium in 1968. Much like Wagner’s patchwork of styles, the cumulative effect of all these images is cryptic yet powerful: a picture of life in America through the eyes of one of the nation’s most idiosyncratic songwriters.

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