Is a Woman represents another reinvention for the ever-evolving Kurt Wagner and company: this time out they assume the sound of a late-night piano bar, and the results—utterly cool and completely irony-free—are thrilling. The songs are carried by pianist Tony Crow and stripped of their familiar brass and strings; Wagner's guitar is the primary rhythm instrument. Certain touchstones of Lambchop's sound remain—Paul Niehaus on steel guitar, Paul Burch on vibes, Deanna Varagona on baritone sax—but they appear infrequently, and in shadowy form. Throughout, Wagner's clipped phrasing and brilliant, confounding lyrics are the focus; his vocals are front and center, dredged up out of the orchestral bed that buried them on recent discs, and entirely forsaking falsetto. This may not be soul music—at least not in the Memphis-sound sense of that word that applied to the band's preceding albums, Nixon and What Another Man Spills—but it is deeply soulful.
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- Label Focus - Merge Records