Ever since I heard Lambchop--it was Nixon--for the first time, I was hooked. Americana being a new label for me then, I approached them skeptically but was blown away by their music, both Kurt Wagner's lyrical mischief and boldness, and the palette of sounds available in such large band, an array of possibilities you don't always hear.
Pretty much everything they put out up until Is A Woman, I thought, was extraordinary ... never quite the same but maintaining a certain mood and musical thread. After that things were not bad but following albums, although each of them contained gems, did not carry the creative weight of its predecessors.
Ohio is a return to what Lambchop does best, the languid melodies full of nuances and thoughtful twists are back. The melancholy in Wagner's voice is more poignant, I think, and he sounds more determined, as laid back as he's always sounded, to touch you deep inside your heart.
The band is stunning, a tribute to risking being so many and never making a ton of money--until Nixon, Kurt work sanding floors to support himself--that pays off big dividends in this album again. I believe there's a remarkable difference where each instrument in a band comes from a member rather than a studio session player. These guys inhabit and bring their personal touch to these songs, something virtuosos for hire don't always bother with.
Speaking of the songs, although hard to pick some over others, some beauties must be mentioned. Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr., Ohio, Popeye, I Believe In You or I'm Thinking of a Number, can be included in a serious Lambchop collection.
All in all, Lambchop's back--although they never went astray--with a powerful album. Power that grows from Wagner hardly raising his voice beyond a whisper and a band that's less concerned with shining individually that glowing together.