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REVIEW: What a difference a day makes when soul meets country, and vice versa (Sydney Morning Herald)

[ 0 ] January 22, 2012 |

Photo: Ross Duncan

KORT AND LAMBCHOP – City Recital Hall, January 20 and 21
Reviewed by Bernard Zuel

THE differences between Nashville’s Lambchop and Kort may seem superficial, at least in their Sydney Festival arrangements. After all, the personnel are identical: singers Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell are backed by guitarists William Tyler and Ryan Norris (who also plays keyboards), drummer Scott Martin and the permanently open-mouthed bass player, Adam Bednarik.

In Kort on Friday night, Wagner wore a white cowboy hat and, with everyone standing up on stage, mostly sang duets alongside Tidwell in centre stage. In Lambchop on Saturday night, he wore a trucker’s cap and, with everyone sitting down, sang lead exclusively while Tidwell contributed what Tyler aptly described as ”ethereal backing vocals” from the back of the stage.

Kort’s songs, mostly from the catalogue of the small Nashville label run by Tidwell’s family in the 1960s and ’70s, are country straight, mid-tempo and with very occasional hints of outside influences such as soul. Lambchop’s Wagner-penned numbers are soul-heavy takes on slow country moves.

It is here, in the provenance of the songs, that the success or otherwise of the weekend’s two shows lie, I think. In Lambchop, Wagner’s low powered, almost half-spoken, singing voice sat comfortably within the mostly intimate conversations between the instruments.

The mood was indigo, the tone low wattage and the songs capable of being quietly devastating but still offering more comfort than pain.

A show so dominated by new material would usually induce restlessness in an audience but these songs immediately felt at home, familiar and, for some in the room, like a lullaby.

In Kort, everything seemed just a little bit short of the mark and off the pace. The material is pretty good and everyone played well, but there was some indistinct energy and unclear motivation behind the songs which made them seem more like borrowed clothes than natural fits.

And just as Wagner was not wholly convincing when assuming the mantle of showman (as Tidwell was reticent to the point of silence), his voice was asked to do more than it is built for against a more vigorous backing. And Tidwell wasn’t able to pick up the slack enough.

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Category: Press & Reviews

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