All photos by David Greenwald
Kurt Wagner of Lambchop played to a fans-only crowd at the Echoplex last week, thanks to the My Bloody Valentine show across town and perhaps also due to touring under his own name instead of as Shari Lewis’ favorite puppet. While 14 years of thoughtful Americana ought to earn an act a full house, the show didn’t suffer for the privacy during a night that was more storyteller’s evening than rock show.
It worked well for Wagner, who’s the type of songwriter who marinates the mundane in Romantic musings and proudly pins his lyrics to a clothesline between songs. “All the leaves have turned to leather / I have lost faith in the spring,” he sang in “Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr.,” a highlight of the set and the band’s excellent new album, OH (Ohio). Wagner described the song as being the product of a dream where he and the fallen civil rights icon met at some murkily remembered bar and split a Gibson — the drink, not the guitar.
This is what keeps Kurt Wagner up at night. But his contemplative brand of Nashville rock is the better for it; while some songwriters peak in the heady days of youth, his work has only grown stronger with the wisdom of age. While OH (Ohio) is a fine example, seek out Kurt, his 2007 solo EP, as well — there’s an urgency to acoustic takes of songs such as “Sharing a Gibson” that gets submerged in the rich arrangements of the album versions.
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