James McMurtry Live in Europe

James McMurtry
Live in Europe
Lightening Red Records
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The word has been out for some time now: James McMurtry is a musical tour de force. Think the storytelling ability of his father (author Larry McMurtry), the sardonic wit of John Prine, Townes Van Zandt’s wry commentary of life on the downside, and Steve Earle’s grit. Live in Europe is proof that McMurtry’s also a helluva live performer. On stage with his longtime band—now no longer officially called The Heartless Bastards—McMurtry served the Europeans a zesty slice of Americana. The CD opens with the swamp rock “Bayou Tortue,” a visit to a place where “maybe we’ll get lucky, maybe get shot.” Looking for easy answers? Keep looking, because McMurtry prefers tales of people searching for and not finding them. But he sure can spin interesting tales about the journey to nowhere. “Just Us Kids” starts with a group of dropouts fed up with this “small town bullshit” and takes us on a trip with stops in California, Mexico, divorce court, the skids, and old age. Call it the tour of Baby Boomer casualties. This album is chockfull of folks that don’t quite fit in—a troubled Gulf-War-vet-turned-wrangler (“Ruby and Carlos”), a wanderlust-stricken woman who can gamble and quote Proust (“Restless”), and various folks who do what they know they ought not to do (“You’d a Thought”). McMurtry works each song hard, slinging his electric guitar through that interstice in which folk, rock, and country music collide and shatter.

McMurtry is currently touring solo across the United States and I can think of little better than catching a performance and taking the Europe album home with you as a memento.

Check out some good audio clips on his Website: http://www.jamesmcmurtry.com/

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