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James McMurtry

Just Us Kids – 2008 (Lightning Rod)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by James McMurtry

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.