Folks in the Bible Belt may have swapped overalls for Wal-Mart smocks, but out of habit or sheer spite, they hang on. This, more or less, sums up a James McMurtry song. With lyrics dosed in both compassion and irony, McMurtry — son of author and Brokeback Mountain screenwriter Larry McMurtry — populates his troubled, postmodern heartland with people who are victims of the New World Order as well as victims of their own inherent flaws. Maybe it's just in his genes, but McMurtry's word pictures consistently conjure the same sense of person, place, and heart found in a great novel or movie script. His new album, Just Us Kids, provides plenty of potent blue-neck political bile: No one will mistake his "God Bless America" for Kate Smith's, and he's sure to piss off red-staters with the Bush-bashing "Cheney's Toy."
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