"The simple fact is that James McMurtry may be
the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation..."
Stephen King | Entertainment Weekly
New Album, The Horses and The Hounds, available August 20, 2021.
In James McMurtry’s new effort, The Horses and the Hounds, the acclaimed songwriter backs personal narratives with effortless elegance (“Canola Fields”) and endless energy (“If It Don’t Bleed”). This first collection in seven years, due August 20 on New West Records, spotlights a seasoned tunesmith in peak form as he turns toward reflection (“Vaquero”) and revelation ( closer “Blackberry Winter”). Familiar foundations guide the journey. “There’s a definite Los Angeles vibe to this record,” McMurtry says. “The ghost of Warren Zevon seems to be stomping around among the guitar tracks. Don’t 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 Browne’s Groovemaster’s in Santa Monica, California, a world class studio that has housed such legends as Bob Dylan (2012’s Tempest) and David Crosby (2016’s Lighthouse) as well as Browne himself for I’m 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 Mellencamp’s own Belmont Studios near Bloomington, Indiana. Hogarth recorded McMurtry’s first two albums, Too Long in the Wasteland and Candyland, for Columbia Records and later mixed McMurtry’s first self-produced album, Saint Mary of the Woods, for Sugar Hill Records. Another veteran of those three releases, guitarist David Grissom (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 McMurtry’s 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 McMurtry’s formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the ’90s,” says New West president John Allen. “He’s 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 songwriter’s most recent collection, Complicated Game: “Lyrically, the album is wise and adventurous, with McMurtry — who’s 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 he’s 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 he’s 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 don’t think anybody writes better lyrics.” McMurtry’s 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 Association’s Album of the Year, with “We Can’t Make It Here” named the organization’s Song of the Year.
Other accolades include a 1996 Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video for Where’d 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 2009’s Live in Europe, which captured the McMurtry band’s 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). (Video of the performance is available on the included DVD.)
Publicity: Cary Baker, Conqueroo, email@example.com, (323) 656-1600
Management and radio: Jenni Finlay, jenni@ jennifinlay.com, (512) 787-8968
“James writes like he's lived a lifetime.” —John Mellencamp
“The most vital lyricist in America today.” —Bob Harris, BBC 2 RADIO
“James McMurtry is a true Americana poet – actually he is a poet regardless of genre” —Michael Nesmith
“McMurtry might be the best topical writer performing right now and (Just Us Kids) finds him at his finest.”
—Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers
"America's fiercest songwriter" - CNN
“James McMurtry writes songs filled with characters so real that you're sure they're going to climb out of the speakers and look you in the eyes.” —VOICE OF AMERICA
“McMurtry aims for the jugular.” —DIRTY LINEN“A conservative,” Franklin Roosevelt said almost 70 years ago, “is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” James McMurtry – work shirt tucked, fists clenched – turns those words into weapons on Just Us Kids. Think Steve Earle with an even more pointed – and sometimes sharper – vision. Essential listening at the height of election season.
– Brian T. Atkinson, RELIX
“The songwriting conscience of America,” —FOLK WAX
“As the years pile on, James McMurtry sings with ever more authority and deserved cynical grace...With each album, (he) finds more to say and a stubborn, uncompromising way to say it.” —iTUNES
“Music that's haunting but familiar, much like the struggles he depicts.” —WASHINGTON POST
“brave, smart, and pithy music that captures James McMurtry at the top of his game.” —ALL MUSIC
“more energized than ever.” —TEXAS MONTHLY
“His songwriting is clear and precise, and he proves once again that he is not afraid to take on the powers that be.” —VINTAGE GUITAR
“McMurtry’s songwriting is in a class by itself.” —METROMIX
“Texastentialist panorama of gray-sky lucidity and neon highway jungles...” —VILLAGE VOICE
“The veteran Texas songwriter’s new album, Just Us Kids, features the slow burner ‘Cheney’s Toy,’ one of the sharpest musical indictments yet of George Bush.” —ROLLING STONE
“emboldened by the reception to 2004’s acerbic (and increasingly relevant) ‘We Can’t Make it Here,’ McMurtry ramps up the polemics on Just Us Kids.” —USA TODAY
“One of the best protest singers working today.” —TIME OUT CHICAGO