Lambchop, self-touted as "Nashville’s most fucked-up country band," take a detour from the big-band rollick of their last album into chamber-country territory here. The orchestra-sized group (the rotating cast of players has numbered in the teens) have been fermenting their own brand of soulfully mellow country music for close to a decade, and their charmingly disheveled history was well encapsulated on last year’s Tools in the Dryer compilation.
The band’s narcotic appeal lies in the way they softly take country music in new directions rather than offering studied impersonations of the past, the way so much alternative country does. The result, for fans of Tindersticks, brings to mind an Americanized version of that Brit band’s languid lounge orchestrations. There’s nary a suggestion that Hank would’ve done it Lambchop’s way, especially given Woman’s cabaret varnish and stoned lyrics. Singer/songwriter Kurt Wagner’s vocals alternate between a plaintive, nocturnal croak and a disarming falsetto. Although built on a foundation of guitar and piano, these patient, somber quasi-ballads feature quirky flourishes, with strings, horns, angelic backing vocals, and reverberating guitars playing peekaboo. "The New Cobweb Summer," one of several six-minute-plus tracks, is underpinned by contrarian saxophone passages. And the title track segues from a gospel intro into a reggae lilt.
(Lambchop perform this Wednesday, March 6, at 608 with David Kilgour. Call 617-591-1661.)