Lambchop have announced a new album, Showtunes. The follow up to 2019’s This (is what I wanted to tell you) will be released 21st May. Along with the announcement the band have shared the lyric video for new single ‘A Chef’s Kiss’ along with a video trailer for the new album.
Speaking of lead single ‘A Chef’s Kiss’ Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner says: “The track is a reflection on the temporal nature of life and ultimately of song itself. A “chef’s kiss”, being a gesture toward something perfected or well done, even loved.”
With Showtunes, as he has done so many times throughout his varied career, in late 2019 Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner was experimenting with something new. By taking simple guitar tracks and converting them into midi piano tracks, “suddenly I discovered I could “play” the piano” he says. “It was a revelation that from those conversions I was able to manipulate each note and add, subtract, arrange the chords and melody into a form that didn’t have any of the limitations I had with my previous methods of writing with a guitar”.
Removing these limitations led to a surprising new sound, something akin to ‘show tunes’ but with edges sanded down and viewed through Kurt’s own specific lens. “In general, it’s a genre I was none too fond of”, Kurt is quick to admit, “with the exceptions of a few Great American Songbook type of stuff or some of the works of artists like Tom Waits or early Randy Newman or even Gershwin or Carmichael. I’d always wanted to make songs with a similar feel but my skills were limited until now”.
Around the same time Kurt was preparing for a live show. He’d been asked to participate in the Wisconsin based Eaux Claires summer festival, originally founded by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner of The National. Inspired by the originality of the performances he’d seen during the 2018 PEOPLE Festival in Berlin and some of the people he’d met there, he once again set off in pursuit of something new and reached out to Ryan Olson and Andrew Broder to flesh out those rough piano ideas. Needless to say the show never happened, but the ideas continued to grow and lead to something bigger, a whole new era for Lambchop.
Though the line-up is less familiar than it has been for some time, “in hindsight it made perfect sense” Kurt says, “the original idea behind Lambchop was: anyone could be part of Lambchop (so long as they behaved themselves). This revolving door policy is how the band has grown and contracted through our many years”.
Additionally, CJ Camerieri joins on horns and Grammy Award-winner Jeremy Ferguson returns as co-producer. With the door now open it also seemed a opportune time to bring in one more player, an effortlessly natural fit and one that for many will feel overdue. For the first time long-time friend and collaborator James McNew of Yo La Tengo joins on upright bass.
“One of the things that holds Lambchop together, what binds us”, Kurt surmises, “is that we are friends with similar likes and an appreciation and respect for what each other does. It’s what has kept this band evolving through time and now the door has reopened, the group, has just gotten larger with its members free to come and go. To be a part of the music as the songs and their interest might allow. Just like in the beginning”.