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Curtis McMurtry

Respectable Enemy (Berkalin)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 5, 2014

Texas Platters

Pedigree doesn't guarantee talent, but Curtis McMurtry clearly inherited a deep narrative inclination from his father and grandfather. That familial tradition surfaces in the 23-year-old's character-driven songs and thoroughly realized, detailed settings, though the scion's debut LP also begins carving out his own distinct path. Signaled at the outset with the southwestern sway and Calexico-brushed horns of "Ghost in My Bed," McMurtry's sound issues with diverse styles throughout, aided by notables including Will Sexton on guitar and Warren Hood on violin, with Diana Burgess shading the songwriter's low, sleepy drawl with a gentle harmony and cello. McMurtry's vocals still need to be grown into, but lyrically he already turns arresting phrases: the worn relationship of "Foxhole," nostalgic lilt of "Eleanor's House," jagged and brooding "Down to the Wire," and swooning dread of "Ezekiel." Perhaps the greatest testament is his father's "Gulf Road" inserted almost indistinguishably amid his own compositions. Respectable Enemy signals a bright future for one of Texas' greatest cultural dynasties.

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