James McMurtry- Ian Jones- Tommy Womack

James McMurtry - The Horses and the Hounds

McMurtry certainly has a sense of humor; his Facebook page says he's been "steadily shedding fans since 1989." There's really only one song here where humor is on display and that's on "Ft. Walton Wake-Up Call" where McMurtry delivers wry, quasi-rapped lyrics like "I'll be damned if I know what she wants/but we gotta get something to eat/Majestic Diner's our best choice/pork chop and eggs oughta save the romance..." Then there's a catchy chorus about losing his glasses which leaves him unable to drive. McMurtry may or may not have experienced the details of this particular song but it is the nature of his talent that all the characters he conjures up here seem very real and not just figments of his imagination. Good examples are the guy reminiscing about a love relationship while driving through the canola fields of Alberta on "Canola Fields" or the fellow railing against some unnamed war in "Operation Never Mind," name-checking military contractor KBR in the process. Particularly relatable is "What's the Matter," a rocker where the song's character is awaiting a phone call he doesn't want to answer because he knows that something has gone amiss at home while he's out on the road. Whether speaking plainly like on "What's the Matter" or waxing poetic like on much of the rest of the album McMurtry has a knack for lyrically connecting with his listeners, which is of course the idea, and fans are likely here to return the favor.

Ian Jones - The Evergreens

Here's a six-song EP from Jones, a tide-me-over until the full album he's working on is finished. "Evergreens" is about missing friends but not in the context of pandemic lockdown; the song is actually about leaving one's home or place of comfort for a life somewhere else. Slow and poignant, the song is reflective but not regretful. "Born Again Sinner" is a bit Jackson Browne-ish as is "Liars, Criminals, Beggars and Thieves" which also demonstrates a fondness for early Eagles. Jones accompanies himself on acoustic guitar but his band country rocks pretty good on "Last Call" where pedal steel guitar from Jesse Siebenberg pushes the boogie-ing cut down the line; hints of Buck Owens and other Bakersfield acts can be heard here too. "Hallelujah," a Jones original not the Leonard Cohen song, has an appropriate gospel tinge and once again shows Jones' vocal similarity to Browne. Fans will be feeling blessed by this brief but heartfelt offering.

Tommy Womack - I Thought I Was Fine

Womack is a beloved favorite in Nashville and a listen to this album's title track gives a pretty good example as to why. "I Thought I Was Fine" is a reflective cut where the character Womack portrays looks at some of the decisions he's made, acknowledging that they weren't all the wisest, singing in his gentle drawl to the loping Americana beat and throwing in non sequiturs like "Fish gotta fly/Birds gotta swim" along the way. "A Little Bit of Sex Part 2" rocks pretty good, like Keith Richards channeling Chuck Berry. On "Call Me Gary" Womack not only plays guitar but also bass, drums and keyboards; you don't have to listen too closely to realize the song, cloaked deceptively in an upbeat melody, is actually about the horrifying experience of a young man being molested by a preacher. Fans familiar with Willie Nelson's version of "That Lucky Old Sun" will barely recognize Womack's hopped-up version of the classic; similarly his take on the Cole Porter chestnut "Miss Otis Regrets" is delightfully different from say, Ella Fitzgerald's sedate reading. Womack's stories are very relatable and unfortunately a great number of folks these days will be nodding their heads in agreement to the sentiment found in "Job Hunting While Depressed."

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