On Lambchop's ninth album, 'chop chieftain Kurt Wagner delves deeper yet into his own idiosyncracies, creating an album that's by turns familiar to Lambchop followers, confusing to newcomers and likel

On Lambchop's ninth album, 'chop chieftain Kurt Wagner delves deeper yet into his own idiosyncracies, creating an album that's by turns familiar to Lambchop followers, confusing to newcomers and likely befuddling to casual listeners.

Once described as "alternative country," this Nashville collective's sound has evolved into a sort of down-home chamber music, with mood-setting aural textures and delicate swatches of guitar and piano. Wagner's raspy baritone vocal delivery completes the palette, and on "Damaged," he uses it to paint portraits of a sad everyday life, people searching for meaning in human relationships and coming up empty.

"Beers Before the Barbican" recounts a conversation in which the important things go unsaid, while the protagonist in "I Would Have Waited Here All Day" walks around her empty house waiting for her man to get off work. It adds up to a focused set of music, potentially rewarding to dedicated listeners, but not destined for the top of the pop charts. -- Troy Carpenter