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Listen to Curtis McMurtry’s ‘Can’t Be Better': Exclusive Premiere

On Feb. 24, Austin-based singer-songwriter Curtis McMurtry will release his second record, The Hornet’s Nest. It’s the follow-up to 2014’s Respectable Enemy and Diffuser is pleased to premiere one of its songs, “Can’t Be Better,” which can be streamed above.

“Can’t Be Better’ is sort of like the ‘Song of Solomon’ with a banjo, a cello, and a trumpet,” McMurtry tells us.

Indeed, McMurtry’s sparse Americana has been compared to Kurt Vile, but it goes a bit deeper than that, a product of his time at Sarah Lawrence College, where he earned a degree in musical composition and ethnomusicology. The way McMurtry’s banjo and the cello (played by Diana Burgess, who also sings) harmonize is influenced by the way Duke Ellington would combine oddly matched instruments to create new sounds, a technique that Brian Wilson also employed on some of the Beach Boys‘ most celebrated recordings. Nathan Calzada’s muted trumpet adds color

“A lot of the music I listen to is from 1950 and earlier,” he adds. “I actually missed a lot of rock in my musical education.”

Lyrically, his approach to storytelling is both an extension of the education he received in songwriting from working with Guy Clark and found within his DNA; his father is singer-songwriter James McMurtry and his grandfather is novelist-Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove). But there’s also more than a touch of Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright to be found in his lyrics, too.

You can learn more about Curtis McMurtry at his website and pre-order The Hornet’s Nest, which comes with an immediate download of another song, “Wrong Inflection,” at his Bandcamp page.

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