Artists have long found inspiration for music in religion, whether that’s through a band or album name that they probably just thought sounded a bit epic or more studiously observing the analogy of the sacred and profane through clever lyricism. In an early comment around their new album announcement, Lambchop overlord Kurt Wagner implied that he named his album The Bible so that it could act as one for spiritual people who don’t have faith. If that doesn’t necessarily make sense in the context of the songs he’s presented, it’s still quite a striking album name – and definitely a pretty good album.
The Bible opens expansively enough with the filmic orchestration of ‘His Song is Sung’, revealing a typically fragile Wagner singing “The room is warmer than it should be / The light in there was barely there” as his voice gradually becomes more contorted and processed, something he’s leaned into regularly since 2016’s FLOTUS. It does a good job of introducing the album before the onset of ‘Little Black Boxes’, a dense disco production that becomes stodgy and obfuscates itself as the vocals disappear into music that awkwardly implores you to dance without ever really convincing you it would be a good idea.
One of the album’s most striking and beautiful moments comes on the otherworldly ‘A Major Minor Drag’; a quietly devastating exploration of loss and grief. As with the other standouts on the album like ‘So There’ or the ambient lap steel of ‘Dylan At The Mouse Trap’, it reinforces the feeling that the best Lambchop songs are the ones you could only ever imagine them doing.
The use of powerful backing vocals on poignant tracks like ‘Police Dog Blues’ or ‘Whatever Mortal’ against Wagner’s unconventional delivery leaves him sounding more hangdog than top dog, but that’s a role he excels in and has built his career upon: the introverted outsider who looks at life without embellishment or judgement, resigned to faithfully relating what he sees as he opens his curtains each morning.
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