James McMurtry - Just Us Kids
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Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod, 2008)

James McMurtry

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

Singer-songwriter James McMurtry takes aim at the Bush administration, corporate greed and various societal ills in this self-produced effort. There's no confusing McMurtry's "God Bless America," a scathing indictment of cronyism and war profiteering in Iraq ("Negotiation's just no fun/ It don't serve our interests none/ Gonna turn up the heat till it comes to a boil/ Then we'll go get that Arab oil"), with the sentimental Irving Berlin classic.

"Cheney's Toy" paints a portrait of George W. Bush as a puppet of Dick Cheney ("You're the man/ Show 'em what you're made of/ You're no longer daddy's boy/You're the man/ That they're all afraid of/ But you're only Cheney's toy"). With "Ruins of the Realm," McMurtry surveys the devastation wrought by the administration's policies ("Dancin' in the ruins of the realm/ A fool and a madman at the helm").

Elsewhere other dark themes are explored as in the fatalism of the title track ("Not so skinny, not so free/ Not so many as we used to be"), and an abuser's attempt to justify incest ("Said she made him do it/After all he's just a man") in "Fireline Road." With poignant lyrics and inspired performances this is an impressive collection.

CDs by James McMurtry

Complicated Game, 2015 Live in Europe, 2009 Just Us Kids, 2008 Childish Things, 2005

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