James McMurtry is never in any rush to get music out.
He lets his ideas ruminate in his head – sometimes this can take days or years.
Whatever the time frame, the songwriter knows when a song is ready.
His latest album, “The Horses and the Hounds,” was released in Aug. 2021, and marked his first album in six years.
“I wrote 14 songs during the time spent on the album,” he says. “Ten of those made the cut. Some songs just don’t make it. They might have good lines in them, but they turn out to be less of a song.”
McMurtry will bring his latest tour to Albuquerque at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Lobo Theater in Nob Hill.
“The Horses and the Hounds” is a reunion of sorts for the songwriter.
He recorded the new album with legendary producer Ross Hogarth at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters in Santa Monica, California, a world class studio that has housed such legends as Bob Dylan and David Crosby as well as Browne himself for 1993’s “I’m Alive.”
McMurtry and Hogarth first worked together 30 years ago, when Hogarth was a recording engineer in the employ of John Mellencamp at Mellencamp’s own Belmont Mall Recording Studio near Bloomington, Indiana. Hogarth recorded McMurtry’s first two albums, “Too Long in the Wasteland” and “Candyland,” for Columbia Records.
McMurtry’s writing process hasn’t changed too much over the course of his decades-long career.
“It all starts with a melody,” he explains. “If it’s cool enough to keep me up, they I try to get a character to say those lines. Then the story comes together. It’s the easiest way for me.”
Life on the road continues to build McMurtry’s muscle memory.
There is a locked in set list that he and the band adhere to, but there’s always room to improvise.
After nearly two years of not performing shows, the musician is hungrier than ever to get back on the road and perform.
“I just turned 60 this last March and I better do this well,” he says. “My voice has improved as a singer. It was kind of an accident. I took voice lessons. I had been going out on stage with bad posture and bad technique. I would have to croak through the set. I went to a vocal coach and learned how to take care of my voice and make better use of it. It’s been something I practice daily because I can’t slip out of it.”