In James McMurtrys new effort, The Horses and the Hounds, the acclaimed songwriter backs personal narratives with effortless elegance (Canola Fields) and endless energy (If It Dont Bleed). This first collection in seven years spotlights a seasoned tunesmith in peak form as he turns toward reflection (Vaquero) and revelation (closer Blackberry Winter). Familiar foundations guide the journey. Theres a definite Los Angeles vibe to this record, McMurtry says. The ghost of Warren Zevon seems to be stomping around among the guitar tracks. Dont know how he got in there. He never signed on for work for hire.
The Horses and the Hounds is a reunion of sorts. McMurtry recorded the new album with legendary producer Ross Hogarth (Ozzy Osbourne, John Fogerty, Van Halen, Keb Mo) at Jackson Brownes Groovemasters in Santa Monica, California, a world class studio that has housed such legends as Bob Dylan (2012s Tempest) and David Crosby (2016s Lighthouse) as well as Browne himself for Im Alive (1993) and New Found Glory, Coming Home (2006). McMurtry and Hogarth first worked together 30 years ago, when Hogarth was a recording engineer in the employ of John Mellencamp at Mellencamps own Belmont Studios near Bloomington, Indiana. Hogarth recorded McMurtrys first two albums, Too Long in the Wasteland and Candyland, for Columbia Records and later mixed McMurtrys first self-produced album, Saint Mary of the Woods, for Sugar Hill Records. Another veteran of those three releases, guitarist David Grissom of Austin (Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, Dixie Chicks), returns with some of his finest work.
Accordingly, the new collection marks another upward trajectory: The Horses and the Hounds will be McMurtrys debut album on genre-defining Americana record label New West Records (Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, dozens more).
I first became aware of James McMurtrys formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the 90s, says New West president John Allen. Hes a true talent. All of us at New West are excited at the prospect of championing the next phase of James already successful and respected career. McMurtry perfectly fits a label housing artists who perform real music for real people. After all, No Depression says of the literate songwriters most recent collection, Complicated Game: Lyrically, the album is wise and adventurous, with McMurtry whos not prone to autobiographical tales credibly inhabiting characters from all walks of life. [McMurtry] fuses wry, literate observations about the world with the snarl of barroom rock, National Public Radio says. The result is at times sardonic, subversive and funny, but often vulnerable and always poignant.
His lauded storytelling check out songs such as Operation Never Mind and Ft. Walton Wake-Up Call on The Horse and the Hounds consistently has turned heads for decades now. James writes like hes lived a lifetime, said John Mellencamp back in 1989, when Too Long in the Wasteland hit the Billboard 200. James McMurtry is one of my very few favorite songwriters on Earth and these days hes working at the top of his game, says Americana all-star Jason Isbell. He has that rare gift of being able to make a listener laugh out loud at one line and choke up at the next. I dont think anybody writes better lyrics. McMurtrys albums Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005) back the claim, each scoring endless critical praise. The former earned McMurtry his highest Billboard 200 chart position in two decades (since eclipsed by Complicated Game) and notched Americana Music Award nominations. Childish Things spent six full weeks topping the Americana Music Radio chart in 2005 and 2006, and won the Americana Music Associations Album of the Year, with We Cant Make It Here named the Song of the Year.
Other accolades include a 1996 Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video for Whered You Hide the Body and an American Indie Award for Best Americana Album for It Had to Happen (1997).
McMurtry tours year-round and consistently throws down unparalleled powerhouse performances, reflected in the release of two live discs: the universally lauded Live in Aught-Three on Compadre Records, and 2009s Live in Europe, which captured the McMurtry bands first European tour and extraordinary live set. Along with seasoned band members Ronnie Johnson, Daren Hess, and Tim Holt, Live in Europe features special guests Ian McLagan (Faces) and Jon Dee Graham (True Believers, Skunks).
Special guest opener for this show is Texas native Jonny Burke. Jonny fortifies vivid vignettes with a poets eye (Behind the Pine Curtain) and an alchemists precision (High Katie). Exhibit A: Behind the Pine Curtain. The Central Texas songwriters excellent new acoustic collection due April 26, 2022 deftly backs tongue-in-cheek narratives (I Cut Off My Ankle Monitor to Be Here) with Technicolor earworms (Pipe Bomb Dream). Time served in the Lone Star states penal system guides the journey. The lyrical theme of the album was a conscious decision, Burke says. I wanted to explore all the events and circumstances surrounding that time and the people I was around while incarcerated.
Behind the Pine Curtain delivers Burkes trademark story songs over and again (Last Time I Get Drunk in This House, Let Me Make It). The songwriter aimed his ambitions high. Before I went in a friend joked that I could come out and make a prison record that even Steve Earle couldnt touch, he says. I tried to stay away from looking like I was glamorizing anything about it though because theres nothing fun or fashionable about being locked up. I want to try to forget that year as quickly as I can, but while the memories were still fresh I knew it would be important to document them if they came out in song form with any merit. If for nothing else than to remind myself in the future to never end up back in that place.
Results immediately turned heads. Ive been a fan of Jonny Burkes for a long time now, legendary East Nashville songwriter Todd Snider says. He always has been able to express what he has been through with a poets touch. Now hes been through the adventure of a lifetime and has turned it into a major album. Jonny Burke is one of the best songwriters around, echoes Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter John Fullbright. Jonny always has a new song thats my new favorite. Hes a songwriters songwriters songwriter.
Special note: All seats for this show are floor only – no balcony or box seats available for this intimate singer-songwriter show.
$20 advance for all floor seats; $25 day of show