Country-soul collective Lambchop is wrapping work on its forthcoming studio album and is shooting for a March 2002 release on Merge Records. According to the Nashville-based group's multi-instrumental

Country-soul collective Lambchop is wrapping work on its forthcoming studio album and is shooting for a March 2002 release on Merge Records. According to the Nashville-based group's multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Marx, the yet-to-be-titled follow-up to 2000's widely acclaimed "Nixon" will be a "real departure."

"It is going to be a different kind of record from 'Nixon' in that there really isn't much in the way of horn arrangements," Marx tells Billboard.com. "I played a lot of trumpet on the last couple of records, but there's virtually no trumpet at all on this record. There's a lot more guitar and piano. The soulful vibe is still there, certainly, but it's less obvious, more subtle. There's also a real concentration on texture and atmosphere, so in that sense it will be quite different."

Production duties for the upcoming set are being handled by Lambchop vocalist/principal songwriter Kurt Wagner and guitarist Mark Nevers. "Mark doubles as a sound engineer and Kurt and Mark are producing together," Marx says. "We've recorded a total of 16 or 18 songs over successive weekends, which is the best way to manage it with our 12 to 14 members. At this point, Kurt and Marky are in the process of mixing, mastering, and sequencing the record."

Beforehand, Lambchop will on Sept. 18 issue the 16-track rarities collection "Tools In the Dryer." As previously reported, the set features 7" singles dating from the early '90s as well as remixes of songs from "Nixon" and 1998's "What Another Man Spills" that have previously appeared on 12" U.K.-only releases.