The Austin Chronicle

Spotlight: James McMurtry

12mid, Antone's

By Dan Oko, March 14, 2008, Music

James McMurtry is the type of songwriter you take at his word.

"I wouldn't call it a political record," he says of his upcoming Just Us Kids (Lightening Rod). "It's a James McMurtry record, with a couple of political songs on it.

"On the last record, 'We Can't Make It Here' struck a nerve with a lot of people. Some people connected with it the wrong way, and I got a lot of hate mail. The songs on this record I don't expect to connect so much. It's a much more angry record. And I think people want to move away from that feeling, but I don't feel like doing that yet.

"I'm still angry about the place where we've let this country get to."

Assuming the role of outsider once more, Just Us Kids drops April 15. For those who miss the significance of a tax-day release, the first single is appropriately titled "Cheney's Toy."

"The radio rep thought it would be good to get it out there while it was still timely," explains McMurtry. "Of course, outside of [local station] KUT, the radio stations have all pretty much run in the other direction. But I understand that – they're worried about losing one of the two listeners they still have. The song is pretty polarizing, but it's been doing pretty well on the Internet."

The son of novelist Larry McMurtry, the proud Texan and now veteran Austinite has lately transformed into a formidable protest singer, as well as his own producer.

"I'm about to turn 46. I'm at a point that I can't help that. I've probably got more time behind me than I have in front of me. But I think this is a better record than I have recorded in the past, and not just the songs but the technical aspects. Picking the right mics, getting the right mix, I did not have to sweat the last week like I have in the past. You just keep on learning, keep on improving. That's how you get better."

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