Lambchop emerged in the mid-90s, a collective of musicians under the musical direction of vocalist and songwriter Kurt Wagner. With an eclectic mix of styles, the group are identified mainly by the sort of brittle beauty to be found in the arrangements, and in Wagner’s impressionistic lyrics, delivered in a hushed sung-spoken baritone, as if being whispered in your ear. Although in the centre of it all in Nashville, the band’s major appeal is in the UK, which may be how British duo Zero 7 came to serve as re-mix producers on this tune.
It’s hard to place exactly where this song fits in terms of genre. It certainly touches on the restrained sub genre of Americana, with some orchestral pop overtones, choral gospel and smooth soul thrown in. This is true of most of Lambchop’s music, which may be one of the reasons it’s so compelling.
Ultimately, “Up With People” is a mood piece about the state of the world, about our lack of perspective as to where we’re steering our own destiny. The cool lounge-jazz that vaguely evokes a 70s feel brought out in the re-mix really bring out some of the contrast in it. The song itself is successful in mirroring what many consider to be a pervasive form of delusional optimism that the world will take care of itself, even as ‘we are screwing up our lives today’. If the sound of the song embodies the optimism, then Wagner’s lyrics undercut it by revealing the foolhardy choice of not taking responsibility for the excesses of our culture.
For more about Lambchop, check out their MySpace page
And for Zero 7, you’d do well to check our their MySpace page too