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Saint Mary of the Woods

Saint Mary of the Woods

by James McMurtry James McMurtry
Saint Mary of the Woods

Saint Mary of the Woods

by James McMurtry James McMurtry

CD(Limited Edition)

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The best and worst you can say about James McMurtry's sixth album is that it's not a drastic departure from his previous five. His storytelling is still sharply observed, his straightforward rock still compelling, but what starts out as a certain sonic consistency becomes oppressive over the course of ten tracks. Granted, there are a few new developments: the production is a degree more lush and atmospheric than McMurtry's previous albums, especially on the achingly gorgeous "Dry River," which is nearly cinematic in its sense of place. And for the first time, he's tackled a genuine epic with the rambling family reunion tale "Choctaw Bingo," driven by a chugging guitar riff and Earl Poole Ball's sparkling piano. But he's also dispensed with the loose, danceable rhythms that elevated the best tracks on his last two releases to the status of heartland funk; nothing here, save "Choctaw Bingo," makes you want to shuffle your feet. Some tracks are so melodically stark they dispense with chord changes altogether; "Red Dress" burbles along on a single motif for five minutes, while "Lobo Town's" stiff, near-robotic rhythm aims for faux-metal crunch but winds up bearing an unfortunate resemblance to, of all things, Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love." Lyrically, McMurtry is as tough as ever, tossing out deadpan descriptions of automobile accidents and other tragedies in rhyming couplets. And when he does try something different, as on the knowing, oddly gentle "Gone to the Y," the results are beautiful. Still, the eternal solidness of his songwriting aside, Saint Mary of the Woods is the album on which McMurtry's standard formula finally starts to sound like too much of a good thing.

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Product Details

Release Date: 09/17/2002
Label: Sugarhill
UPC: 0015891107127
catalogNumber: 1071
Rank: 44683


  1. Dry River
  2. Valley Road
  3. Saint Mary of the Woods
  4. Out Here in the Middle
  5. Lobo Town
  6. Broken Bed
  7. Red Dress
  8. Gulf Road
  9. Gone to the Y
  10. Choctaw Bingo

Album Credits

Performance Credits

James McMurtry   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals,Slide Guitar,Guitar Effects,Vocal Harmony
Ian McLagan   Organ,Wurlitzer
Lisa Mednick   Accordion
Earl Poole Ball   Piano
Stephen Bruton   Bass,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Slide Guitar,Guitar (Baritone)
David Grissom   Guitar
Daren Hess   Cymbals,Drums,Shaker,Tambo Drums
Paul Pearcy   Percussion,Drums,Maracas,cowbell,Tambo Drums
Ronnie Johnson   Bass,Guitar Effects,Vocal Harmony
Myra Spector   Vocal Harmony
Randy Garibay   Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

James McMurtry   Producer
Daren Hess   Sound Effects
Ross Hogarth   Producer,Engineer
Paul Pearcy   Sound Effects
Fred Remmert   Engineer
East Side Flash   Engineer
Gary Isaacs   Cover Photo
Kent Hitchcock   Engineer
Adam Odor   Engineer

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