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James McMurtry


January 2nd, 2023 – revised


Celebrated songwriter’s highly anticipated new record marks his debut
on New West Records and garners a slew of “Best Of 2021” plus an Americana Music Association Song Of The Year Nomination for “Canola Fields”

AUSTIN, Texas — In James McMurtry’s new effort, The Horses and the Hounds, the acclaimed songwriter backs personal narratives with effortless elegance (“Canola Fields”) and endless energy (“If It Don’t Bleed”). This first collection in seven years, out August 20, 2021 on New West Records, spotlights a seasoned tunesmith in peak form as he turns toward reflection (“Vaquero”) and revelation ( closer “Blackberry Winter”). Familiar foundations guide the journey. “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.”

The Horses and the Hounds is a reunion of sorts. McMurtry recorded the new album with legendary producer Ross Hogarth (John Fogerty, Van Halen, Keb’ Mo’) at Jackson Browne’s Groovemaster’s in Santa Monica, California, a world class studio that has housed such legends as Bob Dylan (2012’s Tempest) and David Crosby (2016’s Lighthouse) as well as Browne himself for I’m Alive (1993) and New Found Glory, Coming Home (2006). McMurtry and Hogarth first worked together 30 years ago, when Hogarth was a recording engineer in the employ of John Mellencamp at Mellencamp’s own Belmont Studios near Bloomington, Indiana. Hogarth recorded McMurtry’s first two albums, Too Long in the Wasteland and Candyland, for Columbia Records and later mixed McMurtry’s first self-produced album, Saint Mary of the Woods, for Sugar Hill Records. Another veteran of those three releases, guitarist David Grissom (Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, Dixie Chicks), returns with some of his finest work.

Accordingly, the new collection marks another upward trajectory: The Horses and the Hounds will be McMurtry’s debut album on genre-defining Americana record label New West Records (Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, dozens more).

“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.” McMurtry perfectly fits a label housing “artists who perform real music for real people.” After all, No Depression says of the literate songwriter’s most recent collection, Complicated Game: “Lyrically, the album is wise and adventurous, with McMurtry — who’s not prone to autobiographical tales — credibly inhabiting characters from all walks of life.” “[McMurtry] fuses wry, literate observations about the world with the snarl of barroom rock,” National Public Radio says. “The result is at times sardonic, subversive and funny, but often vulnerable and always poignant.”

His lauded storytelling — check out songs such as “Operation Never Mind” and “Ft. Walton Wake-Up Call” on The Horse and the Hounds— consistently has turned heads for decades now. “James writes like he’s lived a lifetime,” said John Mellencamp back in 1989, when Too Long in the Wasteland hit the Billboard 200. “James McMurtry is one of my very few favorite songwriters on Earth and these days he’s working at the top of his game,” says Americana all-star Jason Isbell. “He has that rare gift of being able to make a listener laugh out loud at one line and choke up at the next. I don’t think anybody writes better lyrics.” McMurtry’s albums Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005) back the claim, each scoring endless critical praise. The former earned McMurtry his highest Billboard 200 chart position in two decades (since eclipsed by Complicated Game) and notched Americana Music Award nominations. Childish Things spent six full weeks topping the Americana Music Radio chart in 2005 and 2006, and won the Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year, with “We Can’t Make It Here” named the organization’s Song of the Year.

Other accolades include a 1996 Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video for Where’d You Hide the Body and an American Indie Award for Best Americana Album for It Had to Happen (1997).

McMurtry tours year-round and consistently throws down unparalleled powerhouse performances, reflected in the release of two live discs: the universally lauded Live in Aught-Three on Compadre Records, and 2009’s Live in Europe, which captured the McMurtry band’s first European tour and extraordinary live set. Along with seasoned band members Ronnie Johnson, Daren Hess, and Tim Holt, Live in Europe features special guests Ian McLagan (Faces) and Jon Dee Graham (True Believers, Skunks). (Video of the performance is available on the included DVD.)

“Lyrically gritty, musically gutsy, go tell ‘em all…we need James McMurtry bringin’ us more.” —Andrew Farrris, INXS

“James McMurtry may be the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation” —Stephen King

# # #

Publicity: Julie Arkenstone (tour)
Radio: Al Moss,, (615) 297-0258
Label: Logan Rogers, New West Records,, (615) 423-2038
Management: Jenni Finlay,, (512) 787-8968

Video & Press
  • ‘The myth always sells better than the reality:’ James McMurtry isn’t Backing Down Anytime Soon

    [Billings Gazette] By Jake Iverson James McMurtry remembers the first time he visited Montana.  “It was in 1976,” he recalled. “My dad was doing some research for a screenplay. He said Montana at that time reminded him of Texas before World War II.” James’ dad was Larry McMurtry, the iconic author whose work defined how […]

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  • James McMurtry Discusses “Santa Cruz/Second Best Surfer on the Central Coast” Reference on Canola Fields

    Many have wondered from where in James McMurtry’s mind, the following Canola Fields lyrics from the new “The Horses and the Hounds” album lyrics arose: “You never knew where my old white Lincoln might take you, party on wheels with suicide doors/Bring the kids and the dogs and your grandma too, we always had room for more,” James […]

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  • James McMurtry Plays Nashville Show in Drag, Protesting Tennessee Law

    “Here in Tennessee, we care a little bit for humankind,” the Texas singer-songwriter said while wearing a red dress (before singing “Red Dress”) [Pitchfork] By Evan Minsker James McMurtry, the seasoned Texas singer-songwriter whose last album, The Horses & the Hounds, was released in 2021, performed at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville on Sunday night. During his […]

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  • In Music, James McMurtry Is A Storyteller Like His Father, Larry McMurtry

    [Texas Music] His latest album proves the artist remains a literary master of portraying those at the margins BY GEOFFREY HIMES James McMurtry’s first album in six years, The Horses and the Hounds, was released in August, but it was written and mostly recorded before the pandemic hit, before his father, the novelist Larry McMurtry, died March […]

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  • James McMurtry — More Journalist Than Autobiographer

    [Arkansas Online] James McMurtry has been known to refer to himself as a “beer salesman.” His job is to draw people to bars and clubs and midsize venues that book him and his band. He puts on a show. If people want to dance, that’s all right. They might get thirsty and drink more. An […]

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