James McMurtry - Live In Europe
By: Matt Bjorke
For most country music connoisseurs, James McMurtry’s brand of literate country rock isn’t as well-known as the literary works of his father Larry McMurtry. While James may not be known to the mainstream audience, he has a loyal, somewhat rabid audience of fans all over the world. As if to prove my point, James’ most recent release, Live In Europe is a CD/DVD collection of eight tracks on the CD and six tracks on the DVD. The DVD portion is technically a ‘bonus’ DVD but it collects some of McMurtry’s “hits” from his previous albums along with recent favorites like “You’d A Thought (Leonard Cohen Must Die)” and “Freeway View.” The DVD also features a guest appearance by Jay Dee Graham on his own "Larado."
While short on words, James McMurtry makes up for that with the tunes found on the CD portion of this Live in Europe collection of songs. The album is just that, an album which showcases the best tracks off of James’ last record Just Us Kids. Playing most of the album before he plays ‘the hits’ that are featured on the DVD, James runs through literate tracks like “Just Us Kids,” “Hurricane Party,” a song which reminds us of the far-ranging reach that hurricane’s have. “Fräulein O,” which is a song that has only appeared on Live in Aught Three, James McMurtry’s previous live project.
Even though not technically country music in the traditional sense (neither are many artists on the charts nowadays), Live in Europe is the kind of record that fans of great songwriting and strong musicianship (by James and his band The Heartless Bastards) should appreciate.