Music » Critics' Picks

James McMurtry

9:30 p.m. Friday, January 18. Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City.

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Six years ago, if you had asked James McMurtry about political songwriting, his reply would have sent you to the nearest hole — in which you would beg to curl up and die. "Preachy," he would have (and did) spit. But that was before he wrote "We Can't Make It Here" and "Choctaw Bingo," two lyrical lacerations that cut to the black heart of class war, whether it's in Iraq or in Oklahoma. McMurtry has never flinched before American violence, but it took the devolution of the Bush dynasty to turn his cynicism into protest. His guitar still sounds like an improvised explosive device, and on his new songs — due in April on the album Just Us Kids — he again points a poison-dipped finger at the white men in blue suits for whom there's no hole deep enough to hide in.

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