Back then, there was this huge effort to go pop with everything. That happened to a lot of the country guys, whose labels wanted them to sell a lot of records. So what did they do? They put all sorts of strings and backing voices on, trying to convince people they were listening to a pop record.
But really they weren t doing any service by doing that, because it didn t need all those accessories I felt like the simplicity of it was what made it really commercial. Willie Nelson, 2010
INVARIABLE HEARTACHE is an album inspired by a shared love of Nashville and its musical traditions. Lambchop s Kurt Wagner a long time champion of the city s history and charms and Cortney Tidwell whose family have, for decades, played a significant part in the city s (country) musical life are both fervent admirers of the music that has emerged from the city. But, like many, they also become disenchanted with the contemporary clichéd and formulaic treatment of country music for which the city is now famous.
It was an early collaboration on Cortney s Don t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up album that led to the two of them performing together at Nashville club The Basement in the summer of 2008. Their cover of Don Williams I Believe In You, a track Lambchop had recorded for their most recent album, OH OHIO, was transformed by KORT s chemistry into a rowdy, straight-from-the-heart-on-the-sleeve moment of Nashville magic, almost as if they and the band behind them were symbolically coming home. Such was the crowd s overwhelming response that evening that the idea of a duets album was born, and though work didn t begin for well over a year the concept was never forgotten. It was discussion about Cortney s family history, however, that led them to the Chart Records catalogue, a label run by Cortney s grandfather Slim Williamson, A&Red later by her father Cliff Williamson, and for which her mother Connie Eaton also recorded.
The result of their subsequent fascination with what they discovered on dusty forgotten vinyl is an album that pays tribute to art of the duet and the classic songwriting that lay behind many of the albums and singles released by the label, a tribute on a grander scale to the forgotten sounds of Music City USA. Keeping it in the family, INVARIABLE HEARTACHE was produced by Kurt Wagner, recorded by Cortney s husband Todd Tidwell at Music Row s Starstruck Studios and by Roger Moutenot (who produced much of Lambchop s last album) at Hap Town, and mixed by Mark Nevers, whose association with Lambchop goes back to its earliest days and who has since become one of Nashville s go-to guys. Recorded with some of the city s finest alternative musicians, whose relationship to the music was varied and spanned more than a generation, it respectfully brings these lost gems into the 21st Century. With 11 songs taken from the Chart Records catalogue, and one more recorded by Cortney s mother for ABC Dunhill, this is a project that, from start to end, comes right from the heart. Like Nashville, and indeed country music itself about both of which people make many assumptions based on myth and ignorance it draws upon the past but looks forward to the future, shining a gentle light on Kurt and Cortney romance with the city, its story and the universal truths that these and its songs represent.