Another 'Nixon'? Certainly not. The band has deliberately set out to make this a "quiet" record, and have dispensed with the grandeur that 'Nixon' celebrates. No less magnificent, 'Is a Woman' refrains from its predecessor's orchestral splendour, and finds a new sumptuousness in Wagner's rich, gravelly tones, accompanied by complementary but unobtrusive piano and guitar harmonies. This is a side of Lambchop not heard as yet - there is no trace of their early country influence - it in places more closely follows the blues tradition. Imagine one man at a piano, singing idle reflections, in a dimly-lit bar, as you listen to Wagner tease and caress every word and syllable in his melancholic, yet strangely reassuring way.
The songs pay homage to life's poignant simplicities, with gentle witticisms and lovable self-deprecations. From the obscure to the discernable, this is largely an observational album, of the self and others (note the detectable reference to Vic Chesnutt in Autumn's Vicar), life and everything. Is Lambchop a woman? Some might say so, with this exploration of their more "delicate, sensitive" side. Particularly stunning tracks include the most charming My Blue Wave (when "the dog gives you the paw..."), the wonderfully humorous I Can Hardly Spell My Name, and the gorgeous title track, Is a Woman, with its uplifting reggae twist as climax.
Whether the magic lies in their rustic timbre, Wagner's resonant vocals, or the lyrical beauty of the music, this is a gem. Sit back, and let 'Is a Woman' work its spell on you.