Consumer Guide Album
James McMurtry: The Horses and the Hounds [New West, 2021]
McMurtry turns 60 next March, and on his first album since 2015's superb Complicated Game, he's feeling it, but as usual not from the usual angles. In the opener he makes out on a Brooklyn bus with that San Jose chick he never got to hook up: "Cashing in on a 30-year crush/You can't be young and do that." But in the honeymoon gone awry later on his worst problem comes up three times at least: "I keep losing my glasses." That's also where he wonders "How're they gonna build a wall with no Mexicans anyway," which goes with the one where wars are now called "operations" and nobody notices because they're not on TV and also because "The country boys will do the fighting/Now that fighting's all a country boy can do." Meet as well Jackie, who feeds the horses she loves by driving a truck until she hits a patch of black ice, or the broke farmer who gets so drunk he guns down a luckier friend. As usual if less often than we might hope, double guitars over an unmistakable four-four carry a declarative baritone that could belong to a 40-year-old--one you should be glad is disciplined enough to record only when he's sure he has a whole album in his kit.