13 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

For his third album, 1995’s Where’d You Hide the Body, Texas songwriter James McMurtry hooked up with producer Don Dixon, guitar extraordinaire David Grissom, and other crack back-up musicians to deliver a full-blown middle-American rock workout, and the wall of sound threatens to overtake McMurtry in spots. His lyrics are careful observations laced with wry wit that when delivered in McMurtry’s dry tone sound fatalistic, the result of inarguable fate. Here, they can pass in a whisper as a guitar is likely to drive the emotional point home. Musicianship is highlighted throughout: “Late Norther” is an instrumental, and tracks such as “Iolanthe,” “Levelland,” and “Rayolight” are country-influenced rockers as much as spot-on observational tales. McMurtry’s a natural outsider. His music relates to people who time is passing by (“Off and Running,” “Fuller Brush Man”) and for whom there is no comfortable niche —much like his own career, where he straddles the line between country, folk, and rock without falling victim to the usual songwriting clichés in any of them.

EDITORS’ NOTES

For his third album, 1995’s Where’d You Hide the Body, Texas songwriter James McMurtry hooked up with producer Don Dixon, guitar extraordinaire David Grissom, and other crack back-up musicians to deliver a full-blown middle-American rock workout, and the wall of sound threatens to overtake McMurtry in spots. His lyrics are careful observations laced with wry wit that when delivered in McMurtry’s dry tone sound fatalistic, the result of inarguable fate. Here, they can pass in a whisper as a guitar is likely to drive the emotional point home. Musicianship is highlighted throughout: “Late Norther” is an instrumental, and tracks such as “Iolanthe,” “Levelland,” and “Rayolight” are country-influenced rockers as much as spot-on observational tales. McMurtry’s a natural outsider. His music relates to people who time is passing by (“Off and Running,” “Fuller Brush Man”) and for whom there is no comfortable niche —much like his own career, where he straddles the line between country, folk, and rock without falling victim to the usual songwriting clichés in any of them.

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