Childish Things

Childish Things

5.0 2
by James McMurtry
     
 

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Childish Things follows James McMurtry's well-received live album by a little over a year and maintains the high standards set by that release while occasionally upping the stakes. The raw yet full roots rock-sound remains dominated by McMurtry's tough, no-frills guitar chords and longtime backing musicians, drummer Daren Hess andSee more details below

Overview

Childish Things follows James McMurtry's well-received live album by a little over a year and maintains the high standards set by that release while occasionally upping the stakes. The raw yet full roots rock-sound remains dominated by McMurtry's tough, no-frills guitar chords and longtime backing musicians, drummer Daren Hess and bassist Ronnie Johnson. The three-piece instrumentation is augmented by subtle yet effective use of fiddle, organ, mandolin, and even horns on the opening track. Nonetheless, the spotlight remains on McMurtry's lyrics and gruff, Southern-fried vocals. He returns to the "middle-American family gathering" story well again on "Memorial Day" and the closing "Holiday," both of which revisit a dysfunctional reunion. McMurtry's bone-dry voice and evocative lyrics haven't lost a sliver of their sharpness, which keeps the songs mesmerizing, if not exactly cutting edge. He also adds a few covers this time; Peter Case's terrific "Old Part of Town" (originally recorded for a Case tribute album) and the country standard "Ole Slew Foot," (shortened to just "Slew Foot" and featuring a stirring guest vocal from Joe Ely) are most welcome, as both are given arrangements that slot into McMurtry's established sound. Even if some of the predominantly mid-tempo melodies don't jump out, the lyrics generally do. "I measure out my life in coffee grounds" and "the color snapshots I sent you, all came out in black and white," both from "Charlemagne's Home Town," are just two examples of McMurtry's ability to throw literary curve balls. He gets political -- and angry -- on the album's longest and best track, "We Can't Make It Here," which builds in Crazy Horse-styled intensity as the singer spills out lyrics that describe the less fortunate who have lost sight of the American dream, with stops at the Iraq war and the outsourcing of Wal Mart merchandise. McMurtry's low-boil vocals and lazy yet gritty spoken-sung delivery perfectly encapsulate but never overplay his bitterness towards those situations, as he remains the ultimate observer on another classy entry into his catalog.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
If you think we can't make rock & roll that's angry, funny, and awake in America anymore, guess again. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
09/06/2005
Label:
Compadre Records
UPC:
0616892658429
catalogNumber:
926584

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

James McMurtry   Primary Artist,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals
Joe Ely   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Bukka Allen   Organ,Piano,Accordion
Jon Blondell   Trombone
David Grissom   Guitar
Daren Hess   Percussion,Drums,Tambourine
Chris Maresh   Bass
Randy Garibay   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Ronnie Johnson   Bass,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals,Chant,Vocal Harmony
Warren Hood   Fiddle
Tim Holt   Guitar
Curtis McMurtry   Baritone Saxophone,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Peter Case   Composer
James McMurtry   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Stuart Sullivan   Engineer
Cary Baker   Publicity
Howard Hausey   Composer

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