THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Kurt Wagner’s signature brittle baritone is back, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get a nostalgic alt-country album. Showtunes is a continuation of Lambchop’s explorations of new sound worlds and opens up another chapter. Each track is an exciting journey with an uncertain destination.
As he has done so many times throughout his varied and fascinating career, Kurt was experimenting in late 2019 with something new. He took simple guitar tracks and converted them into midi piano tracks. It was a revelation that from those conversions he was able to manipulate each note and add, subtract, arrange the chords and melody into a form that didn’t have any of the limitations he had with his previous methods of writing with a guitar.
Removing these limitations led to a surprising new sound, something akin to show tunes but with edges sanded down and viewed through Kurt’s own specific lens. It’s a genre he was none too fond of, with the exceptions of some Great American Songbook-type stuff or some of the works of artists like Tom Waits, early Randy Newman or even Gershwin or Carmichael. Says Wagner: “I’d always wanted to make songs with a similar feel but my skills were limited until now.”