Texas legend Jason Boland and his band, The Stragglers, released Dark And Dirty Mile earlier in 2013. Boland is known for straight up honky-tonk music and toe tapping melodies. Much like George Strait, when Jason Boland and the Stragglers release an album, its pretty much a given that it will be solid country gold.
The album hits you right in the mouth with the killer "Dark And Dirty Mile" to open. This song is a shining example of what the Texas music scene is all about. It's a solid honky-tonk number with a lot of fiddle and thoughtful lyrics. What more can you ask for? The album closes with a stripped down version of the same song, and both are must listens. The albums then slides into "Electric Bill", a fun song that deals with poverty with a smile and some mind altering substances. Track 3 is "Lucky I Guess", a poignant and well written love song. A lot of love songs anymore are big soaring ballads and seem more cliche than heartfelt. "Lucky I Guess" is understated and feels honest. Its easily one of my favorites on the album.
The next few tracks do something that is really hard to do. The album dives into a lot of political talk without sounding biased or overbearing. "The Only One" is a love song, but some of the verses touch on a distrust of the government, while "Ludlow" and "They Took It Away" are straight up historical anecdotes with no apologies made for picking sides. What Jason does, however, is present his case and beliefs without mocking or disrespecting others, without being loud and brash, and by using intelligent banter rather than cliche catchphrases. If more people could politically debate like this, we wouldn't have the ridiculous dissension we have today.
The rest of the album features strong songs throughout, my favorites include "Nine Times Out of Ten" and "See You When I See You". The only song I'm not crazy about is "Green Screen". It is a little loud for my taste and doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the album sonically. It isn't a terrible song, but it isn't my cup of tea. Jason Boland deserves some credit for taking a chance with this song, but to me it didn't work.
Dark And Dirty Mile is one of my favorite albums of 2013. It features plain and simple, straight forward country music. While its fun to push boundaries and get creative and new, coming back to what we are built upon is always refreshing and fun. That's what Dark And Dirty Mile does. Give this album a shot if you want some good ole fashioned country with intelligent conversations and toe tapping honky-tonk music!
Standout Tracks: "Dark And Dirty Mile", "Electric Bill", "Lucky I Guess", "They Took It Away", "Ludlow", "The Only One"
"Dark And Dirty Mile"