THE HORSES AND THE HOUNDS
New West Records
It’s been a long wait for McMurtry fans since his excellent Complicated Game came out six years ago but there was never any doubt that it’d be worth the wait. McMurtry, like a fine wine, seems to just get better and better with age.
The Horses and the Hounds hits the ground running with ‘Canola Fields’ and McMurtry casting a descriptive eye back to people and places – from Southern Alberta to Santa Cruz and Brooklyn. He has that special ability to sing about America, filtered through the eyes of characters and acute observational details of their circumstances, from burnt toast to stained rugs and rusty cedar. ’Operation Never Minds’ examines media and modern apathy, numerous bad decisions are documented, the hardships of ageing rockers are laid bare and facing up to past mistakes and missteps inhabit a number of songs.
McMurtry knows the power of music in giving atmosphere to his stories. Delivered with only an acoustic guitar they’d still stand tall as sublime compositions but with the full band treatment they sway in the wind and thunder down desert highways, heartache is amplified and damaged souls are conveyed with weight and depth. It’s essentially heartland rock of the Petty and Springsteen kind but rendered with economy and aplomb. McMurtry has rewarded the listener with another masterclass in songwriting.