James McMurtry Announces New Album ‘The Horses & the Hounds’
In a brilliant economy of words, James McMurtry can bring alive entire characters and expansive landscapes in songs, revealing details down to the crevices in the dried soil, and the contours of a face in the mind’s eye. He’s compiled a body of work that rivals most any other songwriter, and most certainly made his world-renown novelist father—the recently-passed Larry McMurtry—monstrously proud.
Over the last dozen years or so, James McMurtry’s output has slowed down significantly, but if anything, his craft and cunning has only sharpened. That’s how his 2015 album Complicated Game became the Album of the Year on a hardcore country website like this one.
It was announced over two years ago that McMurtry had signed with New West Records. But it’s just now we’re getting word he’ll be releasing his new album on the label called The Horses and the Hounds on August 20th—some seven years after his last release.
“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.”
The new album is produced by Ross Hogarth, who helped engineer McMurtry’s first two albums. It also sees McMurtry reuniting with guitarist David Grissom, who played on those first two albums as well. Perhaps trying to tap into some of that early-career magic and energy, the album was recorded at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters studio in Santa Monica, California.
“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.”
James McMurtry wastes no time spellbinding us with his poetry that transports you straight back to a song’s inspiration, releasing the track “Canola Fields” ahead of the new record. A song inspired by the colors of Canadian agriculture, McMurtry can still use it to deliver lines like, “We met up in Brooklyn before it went hipster. You carried your keys in your fist,” while spirited guitar drives home the melody.
“We’ve traveled back and forth across western Canada at various times of the year. In Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, the fields are chartreuse in late summer, and we long wondered what crop could make such a bright blossom,” McMurtry says of the song. “In the fall, those same fields would be raked into wind rows of some rusty colored substance. Weird machines rolled along scooping up the rows and spitting chaff out the back. We figured it was some kind of seed crop. One day we passed an empty field with a big sign that said, ‘Canola Processing…’ with a phone number. The song formed over time.”
The Horses and the Hounds is now available for pre-order on CD, and on vinyl and colored vinyl.
1. “Canola Fields” (James McMurtry)
2. “If It Don’t Bleed” (James McMurtry)
3. “Operation Never Mind” (James McMurtry)
4. “Jackie” (James McMurtry)
5. “Decent Man” (James McMurtry)
6. “Vaquero” (James McMurtry)
7. “The Horses and the Hounds” (James McMurtry, David Grissom)
8. “Ft. Walton Wake-Up Call” (James McMurtry, Daren Hess, Cornbread)
9. “What’s the Matter” (James McMurtry)
10. “Blackberry Winter” (James McMurtry, Ross Hogarth)
June 9, 2021 @ 6:27 pm
I’m looking forward to this.
I like the song, but my initial complaint is the feeling evoked by the reference of the “’69 Bug.” Unfortunately, it calls to mind all of the Boomer self-worship of the past several decades where they think that their narcissism, selfishness, hedonism, and activism healed the world, when in fact, it destroyed everything decent. That line just makes me think of some horrible movie where Diane Keaton and Dustin Hoffman act like the average middle American is swayed by whatever thin agitprop they are being paid to sell.
June 9, 2021 @ 7:17 pm
You need to get a hobby.
Perhaps dominoes, pitching pennies, or taking up the hula hoop.
Those endeavors would be infinitely more worthwhile than the time you wasted on your post.
Have a nice day.
June 9, 2021 @ 8:27 pm
June 10, 2021 @ 4:54 am
Gotta say, seven years is too long to wait between James albums. And I think this song is freaking fantastic.
WAY too early to nit-pick one of the greatest songwriters ever.
July 7, 2021 @ 11:39 am
rather than whining and blaming whoever, do something or do you prefer playing the victim.
July 10, 2021 @ 5:36 pm
Did my comment hit a little close to home? Maybe you left mainline Christianity and joined some new age religion in the 80’s/90’s, or got divorced after 40 years of marriage because you needed to “find yourself” or you just weren’t “fulfilled.” Are you still sending money to your alma mater where they teach the poor saps of other morons to hate you and your children? Were you “with her” and proud?
June 9, 2021 @ 8:01 pm
1) J. McMurtry is bada**. Love his style.
2) There is no such thing as a canola. Canola is a synonym for Canadian oil. Canola oil is rapeseed. Harms and kills fowl and animal. Just another wonderful product approved by the FDA for human consumption.
Ask Corb Lund about Agricultural Tragic.
Started researching canola in 2009. Had a patient on the table for a study in nuclear. All stimuli toned down for the patients comfort. Asked myself – what the f— is a canola?
Started researching, chuckling to self at what the research bore.
Cook with high end Avocado, Grapeseed, Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Mostly imported.
3) McMurtry is bada**.
Bill from WI
June 10, 2021 @ 4:33 pm
June 10, 2021 @ 6:39 pm
June 9, 2021 @ 8:08 pm
He’s been playing a few of these songs in his livestreams and every one is a masterclass in songwriting. As Trig mentioned he writes in realistic details better than most anyone, so he must have a working knowledge of almost everything on the planet, especially what people feel and see in their minds.
June 9, 2021 @ 8:29 pm
Great news. His last album “Complicated Game” was astoundingly good.
June 12, 2021 @ 9:11 pm
I agree, and hearing complicated game level songwriting with Too Long in The Wasteland style production has my mouth watering!
June 9, 2021 @ 9:56 pm
Hell yes. Can’t wait.
Appreciate the heads up!
June 9, 2021 @ 10:04 pm
Beautiful. I grew up in the part of the country he is singing about. Brings a tear to my eye thinking about it now I’m stuck here 7000 miles away and all that happened in between. It may as well be the moon. This will be album of the year easily. He is simply the best doing it. Can’t wait for more .
June 10, 2021 @ 4:58 am
I love his Daddy’s books – and story telling skill/talent- his son sure favors him in the looks dept- I’ve never really paid much attention to James or his direction/music- listening to the video accompanying this write up (which is excellent BTW) he reminds me of Bob Dylan and BJ Barham- an economy of words, or a mish mash of non related terms that have to be listened to to be appreciated-
June 10, 2021 @ 6:58 am
Any suggestions on where I should start with Larry’s books? Long time James fan and have always wanted to read his father’s works.
June 10, 2021 @ 7:46 am
No better place to start than lonesome dove. It’s a massive 800 something page book but my all time favorite. First read it in 8th grade. There are two prequels and a sequel. Read them all but start with lonesome dove and read them in the order they were released not the chronological order of the story. At least the first time.
June 10, 2021 @ 11:02 am
Totally agree with this. Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer for a reason. Not only the best book I have read, it is also the best mini-series of all time.
June 10, 2021 @ 11:54 am
The best thing to ever happen to t.v.
Lonesome Dove, Billy Graham, the Gaithers, RFD t.v. The Red Green show.
Thanks for the thrift link DJ!
June 10, 2021 @ 11:56 am
Have to add the Flip Wilson show to that list.
He was hilarious.
June 12, 2021 @ 6:36 am
Comanche Moon was my favorite of the other Lonesome Dove-related books.
Horseman, Pass By was made into a great movie called Hud. You could start with that movie and then read the book and not go wrong.
Same with The Last Picture Show (movie and book are the same name).
June 10, 2021 @ 10:45 am
June 10, 2021 @ 10:51 am
My bad on he previous link-this one is the one I was meaning to post
Bill from WI
June 10, 2021 @ 5:06 pm
Thanks DJ, got a copy on the way!
June 11, 2021 @ 3:31 am
Hope you ordered a hard cover- I wore out 2 paper backs I read them so many times, LOL- seriously, I enjoyed all the books he wrote that I’ve read, which is most of them-
June 11, 2021 @ 3:57 am
Thanks DJ, Jason and everyone else for the info.
June 10, 2021 @ 6:39 am
I walked in there and asked for a double of McMurtry.
She said we ain’t served that since it was simpler times but more complicated rhymes
And that boy is one of a few
I said well it looks like we can kick up a single or two….
June 10, 2021 @ 7:40 am
June 10, 2021 @ 7:44 am
Alan Jackson, James McMurtry, and Vincent Neil Emerson all in the same year. We need a Mike and the Moonpies album and a Hayes Carll album and this will be an epic year.
June 10, 2021 @ 7:52 am
If you’re a fan of the Western novel genre, I would suggest reading Owen Wister’s “The Virginian” before anything else. Its regarded as the first Western novel and, probably still the best. Also, Andy Adams’ “Log of the Cowboy.” Adams isn’t the greatest writer, but he was a real cowboy and the book, as well as his other books, are more like a diary of real events.
June 10, 2021 @ 1:45 pm
This song is so satisfying to hear! He’s one of those country songwriters that I believe has inspired other songwriters to be better, by way of his approach and reverence for the craft. Can’t wait to hear more!
August 18, 2021 @ 11:27 am
Holy Shit it’s Chucky Waggs!