Lambchop: The Bible review – the weight of the world with Kurt Wagner | Lambchop

Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner is indelibly associated with Nashville, Tennessee. But it has been years since the band – in which he is the sole constant member – have been an Americana outfit. Over a series of extraordinary albums, Wagner has turned to soul, pianos, digital sounds and Auto-Tune. For Lambchop’s 16th album, he decamped to distant Minneapolis to work with local multi-instrumentalist Andrew Broder and producer Ryan Olson (who also works with another voice modulator, Bon Iver). The protests over George Floyd’s death erupted around them, a historic rupture whose presence is felt most obviously, if not explicitly, on Police Dog Blues.

Whatever The Bible may be about – and Wagner’s wide-ranging concerns can be both limpid and elliptical, taking in love, mortality, baseball and “eating pizza with a fork” – the whole is saturated by a kind of reeling sensation as “a man chokes to death” and the world changes. If Wagner declares That’s Music to be “the ballad of a country music nerd”, it remembers – with gentle digital orchestrations – Tommie Smith, who raised a Black power fist at the 1968 Olympics. Elsewhere, the jazz timekeeping of Whatever, Mortal rubs up against an unexpected disco banger, Little Black Boxes. But there are moments, as on Every Child Begins the World Again, so musically numinous and epochally sad that Lambchop approaches Nick Cave’s recent work.