Nixon

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Barnes & Noble - Jenny Eliscu
Maybe Lambchop's name rings a bell for you, and maybe its mention even has you remembering something about quirky, lavishly orchestrated country music. But pay attention, because if that's all you know, you're missing out on the most crucial data. Kurt Wagner. Memorize that name. Years from now, you'll see it pop up in tomes on underrecognized musical geniuses of the late-20th/early-21st century. Wagner is the man behind Lambchop's wonderfully original blend of Bacharachian pop and well-appointed Music City country. With a backing band of 13 musicians for his fifth album under the Lambchop moniker, Wagner continues to rearrange those forms into something that taps into ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jenny Eliscu
Maybe Lambchop's name rings a bell for you, and maybe its mention even has you remembering something about quirky, lavishly orchestrated country music. But pay attention, because if that's all you know, you're missing out on the most crucial data. Kurt Wagner. Memorize that name. Years from now, you'll see it pop up in tomes on underrecognized musical geniuses of the late-20th/early-21st century. Wagner is the man behind Lambchop's wonderfully original blend of Bacharachian pop and well-appointed Music City country. With a backing band of 13 musicians for his fifth album under the Lambchop moniker, Wagner continues to rearrange those forms into something that taps into what makes them enduring, yet quietly subverts their sacrosanct rules. Often he does that with his wry lyrics, which reflect a dark cynicism similar to the one plied by fellow pomo country gent and occasional musical cohort Vic Chesnutt. "The guy on the cross is holier than I," he croaks, adding, "but then again, he's made from plastic." What at first seems like a rousing inspirational, "Up with People" applies a chorus of gospel singers, all pep and handclaps, to the line, "We are screwing up our lives today." On "What Else Could It Be?" and "You Masculine You," he sings in a falsetto that would be almost Prince-like, if it weren't so deliberately overwrought. NIXON doesn't boldly go where no Lambchop record has gone before, but it finds Wagner continuing to push ever farther away -- no matter how gradually -- from the traditions that inform his music. And it still looks pretty adventurous from here.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Supposedly a concept album about the disgraced 37th president of the United States (though the lyrics make no recognizable statements about Richard Nixon's infamous life and times), Lambchop's fifth full-length was a powerful consolidation of the strengths they'd gained since their uncertain debut in 1994. Kurt Wagner's sometimes singing/ sometimes talking vocal style, and lyrics that were oblique to the point of seeing surreal, remained a matter of taste, but his melodies hit a new peak in their beauty and evocative spirit as he merged countrypolitan country, smooth R&B, and chamber pop in ambitious and intriguing ways. And as Lambchop swelled to 13 musicians (not counting guest musicians, a choir, and the string section), the arrangements became increasingly sophisticated as Wagner and his collaborators used their rich palette of sounds to inspire a wealth of moods -- from the easygoing groove of "Grumpus" to the luxurious sadness of "Nashville Parent" -- and helped to clarify and strengthen that which seemed uncertain in Wagner's lyrics. And given the sheer ambition of this album, Nixon is a milestone in independent record making, music constructed on a grand scale that's richly satisfying without seeming overdone or tricked up simply for its own sake. And regardless of how one feels about Wagner's abilities as a singer, when he lets his heart do the talking on numbers like "The Distance from Her to There" and "The Book I Haven't Read," his sincerity is undeniable and affecting. Calling Nixon Lambchop's masterpiece is to ignore the fine work they'd done before, and the similarly ambitious work that came afterward, but it is the point where they showed they were in full command of the tools and talents at their disposal, and its glorious eccentricities are as pleasurable as anything in their catalog.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/8/2000
  • Label: Merge Records
  • UPC: 036172947522
  • Catalog Number: 29475

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Lambchop Primary Artist
Ken Coomer Percussion
The Nashville String Machine Strings
Mark Nevers Guitar, Electric Guitar
Matt Swanson Bass Guitar
Kurt Wagner Guitar, Vocals, Juno
Alex McManus Electric Guitar
Paula James Booker Electric Guitar
Tony Crow Piano
Paul Niehaus Pedal Steel Guitar, Vocals, Fender Telecaster
Deanna Varagona Baritone Saxophone, Vocals, Background Vocals
Allen Lowrey Drums
Dennis Cronin Trumpet, Cornet, Vocals, Background Vocals
Jonathan Marx Trumpet, Vocals, Background Vocals
John Delworth Piano, Hammond Organ, Juno, Hammond Synth
Technical Credits
Lloyd Barry Arranger, String Arrangements
Mark Nevers Producer, Engineer
Lambchop Arranger
Kurt Wagner Producer
Wayne White Cover Art, Cover Painting
Brian Miles Engineer
Dennis Cronin Engineer
Tommy Dorsey Mastering
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