Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Dark & Dirty Mile (Proud Souls)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., May 17, 2013
Jason Boland & the StragglersDark & Dirty Mile (Proud Souls)
Jason Boland's come a long way since his Red Dirt-kicking, Pearl Snaps days. 2008's Comal County Blue proved the Okie native and decadelong Austinite worthy of the top tier of emerging Texas songwriters, its poignant tunes crafted through their songwriter's blistered heartbreak and alcoholism recovery. 2011's Rancho Alto wrangled Boland's deeply gritty vocals with a mature polish, and now his seventh studio LP steps even further as the material speaks to higher truths and more social awareness without sacrificing the singer's honky-tonk roots. The opening title track plies a grounded, backroads struggle of searching, redemptive purpose, while "They Took It Away" and "Ludlow" spark bitter and biting critiques of "progress." "Lucky I Guess" and "Blue Diamond" still strike stellar personal tones, and "Only One" couches conscience in a love song even as closer "See You When I See You" offers a crushing, if steel-eyed, ode to letting go. Boland's most important offering yet.