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Kurt Wagner is the main man behind the band called Lambchop Photo © Jo Bongard

For Lambchop Often Turns Us Still

On Friday 18 August, the De La Warr Pavilion will be charmed by the gentle tones of Kurt Wagner’s band, Lambchop. HOT’s Erica Smith goes all fan-girly.

I first heard Lambchop in the summer of 2000 at the Big Chill Festival. It was early Sunday afternoon, the sun was shy and a scattering of people were sitting on blankets in the main arena. Kurt Wagner came on stage, sat down and quietly started playing guitar and singing. Slowly, the sun got stronger, and the audience swelled. Lambchop’s sound is warm and understated. Kurt Wagner tells true life stories of Americana in a voice that’s just about audible. The effect is not soporific, it is literally charming. The collective pulse of the audience drops – in a good way.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 00.44.39Lambchop’s current album is called FLOTUS – which stands for ‘For Love Often Turns Us Still’. And that’s what the music does to me. It takes me down, not to a sad place, just to a very calm place. Until recently, Wagner has toured with an orchestral entourage of musicians, but the last couple of years have seen him experiment with electronic music. Totally different media, yet the tone remains the same.

This sonic reinvention is quite extraordinary for a band steeped in Nashville’s alt-country life-style. What is even more surprising is that Wagner’s non-Lambchop collaborators include two of St Leonards’ resident musicians: Darren Morris of North Street Studio One and Paul Godfrey of trip hop band Morcheeba.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 10.06.14The Morcheeba project was providing vocals for a track called What Do New York Couples Fight About back in 2002. In 2010, Darren Morris and Ashley Beedle brought out an amazing album of cover versions of songs by Mavis Staples. Wagner’s track, The Gangs of Rome, is an achingly delicate song on a treat of an album. If you haven’t heard Mavis, then it’s time that you did. There is hardly a better way to spend £6.99 – yours from Boomkat. Wagner collaborates on one of Morris and Beedle’s current projects too – he has recorded the voice over for a sci-fi concept album called Africanz on Mars… watch this space!

It was through experimenting with musicians from other genres, and working with another side project called HeCTA that Wagner started playing with electronic music making. He is a fan of Bowie’s final album Dark Star, and FLOTUS shares the same desire to push boundaries. Fans often want their heroes to stay sounding the same, but true artists will always evolve. The FLOTUS album is a wonderful example of soulful electronica.

The Hustle track is particularly fine. There is a Krautrock feel to it, but the Lambchop-keyboard-tenderness remains. Thanks to the magic of YouTube and Republic of Music, you can listen to the whole FLOTUS album in advance of the gig – and if you think you can’t dance to it, then try the disco remix of The Hustle – Kurt Wagner goes Barry White. He’ll have us dancing in the streets of Bexhill before the night ends.

Lambchop play at the De La Warr Pavilion on Friday 18 August.
Support act is Roxanne de Bastion.
Doors at 7pm. Tickets are £20 from the DLWP box office.

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Posted 07:56 Thursday, Jul 27, 2017 In: Music & Sound

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