Jason Boland & the Stragglers

Comal County Blue (Apex)

Texas Platters

Jason Boland & the Stragglers

Comal County Blue (Apex)

Jason Boland's had his share of struggles, from a severe battle with the bottle to his recent vocal surgery, so when he sings of a rough, raw hope on songs like "Bottle by My Bed," it cuts deep with genuine experience. The Okie turned Texan's fifth studio LP opens applying that same defiant bootstrap mentality to the hurricane-hit Gulf behind a low, Waylon Jennings gruffness on "Sons and Daughters of Dixie," and there's a touch of classic David Allen Coe on the dark barroom ballad "Something You Don't See Everyday." Yet Boland also has a polish in his approach that aligns him with George Strait on tunes such as "No Reason Being Late" and "Alright," his hard drawl working best on subtle, hard-luck realizations like the title track. "The Party's Not Over" swings the dance hall with help from Robert Earl Keen, while "Outlaw Band" burns a mean fiddle and mandolin to close.

***.5

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