Too Long In the Wasteland

Too Long In the Wasteland

The son of Lonesome Dove novelist Larry McMurtry, Texas songwriter James McMurtry immediately established himself with his 1989 debut album, Too Long in the Wasteland, as a terse, concise singer and writer with a well-stoked sense of alienation and personal conflict amongst familiar small town surroundings. John Mellencamp took on the production duties and grabbed his own powerhouse drummer Kenny Aronoff to pile drive these songs into the dirt. From the opening crush of “Paint By Numbers,” McMurtry comes off like a rural Lou Reed, reeling off sarcastic one-liners in deadpan voice while the band electrify the pose and the female back-up singers sweeten the hardline. The bluesy longing of the title track and the sweet country harmonies of “Angeline” further soften the edges. But McMurtry’s biting wit ensures he sneaks in the last laugh. (“I’m not from here / but people tell me it’s not like it used to be / they say I should’ve been here / back about ten years / before it got ruined by folks like me”).

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