James McMurtry & the Heartless Bastards
Live in Aught-Three
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2004, Volume 11, #4
Written by John Metzger
Live in Aught-Three isn’t so much an essential component of James McMurtry’s catalog as it is an intriguing overview of a first-rate songwriter’s career. On his last studio outing Saint Mary of the Woods, McMurtry enlisted his road band to flesh out the sounds surrounding his literate lyrics, and not surprisingly, none of the four tunes resurrected for this concert recording fare all that differently from their studio counterparts. Even older material — such as Rachel’s Song, Too Long in the Wasteland, and I’m Not from Here — while well-played, is relatively unaltered, and though the renditions carry a slightly rougher-around-the-edges ambience, they also lose some of their more subtle nuances. Most notable, then, is the previously unrecorded track Lights of Cheyenne, which is a welcome addition to McMurtry’s estimable canon. Indeed, while Live in Aught-Three might not appeal to his more casual fans, it’s still an exquisite collection of vividly painted character sketches, performed with all the fiery grit and determined individuality that is customary of Texas-born folk singers.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box