Lightning Rod Records will release singer/songwriter James McMurtry's new CD, titled Just Us Kids, on April 15, 2008. McMurtry's ninth album, which features 12 new songs, is a follow-up to 2005's critically acclaimed and award-winning project, Childish Things.
McMurtry has long been known as fine storyteller, but he has lately received nationwide attention for his role as a musical activist. On Just Us Kids, McMurtry picks up where he left off with his controversial anthem "We Can't Make It Here." On "Cheney's Toy," McMurtry once again reminds us that the war in Iraq is still going on, with veiled references to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and the stark image of a soldier who returned from the conflict, blind and brain damaged. The lyrics of "God Bless America" call out the corporate profiteering and cronyism of the heads of state who led the country to war. McMurtry's songs introduce the listener to characters that exist on the fringes of society. Drug addicts, murderers, crooked politicians, and other unsavory folks all play a part on Just Us Kids.
The self-produced album shows that McMurtry has developed a skill as producer that matches his songcraft. The songs on Just Us Kids vary widely in texture and instrumentation. The Faces' Ian McLagan's piano playing is all over the album while Timbuk3's pat mAcdonald's harmonica peppers several tracks. Austin singer/songwriter John Dee Graham contributes a wailing guitar solo to "Fireline Road." Grammy-nominated Louisiana rocker, C.C. Adcock, adds a swampy guitar part to the album opener, "Bayou Tortous." The rhythm section is McMurtry's longtime road band, Daren Hess and Ronnie Johnson.
Just Us Kids will be the first release for Nashville-based Lightning Rod Records, distributed by Thirty Tigers/RED. Label president Logan Rogers previously worked as director of A&R for Compadre Records on the release of McMurtry's last two albums. "Working with James McMurtry has been a career highlight for me. He is a phenomenal artist with tremendous integrity, and I can think of no better debut release for Lightning Rod Records," said Rogers.
Author Stephen King described Ft. Worth native McMurtry as "the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation" in Entertainment Weekly. The son of acclaimed author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment), James grew up on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records. His first album, released in 1989, was produced by John Mellencamp and marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed projects for Columbia and Sugar Hill. In 2003, McMurtry released the universally lauded Live in Aught-Three (Compadre Records). 2005's Childish Things garnered some of the highest critical praise of McMurtry's career and spent six weeks at number one on R&R's Americana Music Radio Chart in 2005 and 2006. In September 2006, Childish Things and "We Can't Make It Here" won the Americana Music Awards for album and song of the year, respectively.
In 2007, McMurtry performed on PBS' long running music program, "Austin City Limits," for the second time in his career. This year, McMurtry and his band will launch a national tour in support of Just Us Kids.