I’ve been meaning to do a review of James McMurtry’s Live in Aught Three and the fact is, I just don’t have time right now. A quick vacation with the family to my home town of Santa Rosa last week was a much needed break, and I hit the classroom in earnest next week.

But I can’t leave this music alone until I do.

Something about this guy’s music reminds me of Daddy, which I mentioned some time this summer. The timbre of the voices, the flavor of the music, and the quality of the song writing on both albums share a polished rawness and the ability to deal with some serious topics with tongue-in-cheek irony.

Probably my favorite cut on the whole release is the one that brought McMurtry to my attention in the first place. "Choctaw Bingo" is introduced as being about "The North Texas Souther Oklahoma Meth-Amphetamine industry." While this certainliy conjures up some pretty tragic images, the song itself shines hilarious light on personalities and places these characters in this ballad take us to, primarily centered around Uncle Slayton’s life with his Asian bride, his airstream trailer, his whisky making, and his crank lab, which seems to be have replaced the income lost from dropping moonshine sales.

Other numbers on the album range to greater seriousness.but are largely regional in nature, looking at a number of Tex-centric ideas and places. "Levelland", for example, looks at the history of Levelland and who made it what it is. In "Lights of Cheyenne", McMurtry take a more melancholic look at events in a life, including a daughter who seems to be hooked on broken dime-store cowboys. "Sixty Acres" explores the modern challenges of inheriting land one doesn’t want to work–"What am I supposed to do with that?"

Each of these features McMurtry’s baritone voice, guitar work, and the solid backing of his band. The music qualifiies easily as country, but has a broader appeal into the edges of folk and rock.

If his name sounds familiar, it may be notable that James is the son of noted novelist Larry McMurtry, who wrote the popular Lonesome Dove series as well as The Last Picture Show, and countless other novels. While James’ work stands defiantly on its own in quality and depth, he seems to share his father’s affinity for broken souls and comically tragic lives without loosing the ability to tell a story.

I recommend this album thoroughly. Give it a search at iTunes or Amazon. You won’t be sorry you did.