ason Boland and the Stragglers are one of the few bands left that are unapologetically still a true country outfit. Fiddle, steel, cheating, drinking, redemption, sawdust and broken promises filter in and out of their songs and stories like rainfall off a tin roof. Among the Texas and Red Dirt bands, they are unique in that they’ve managed to neither go the country rock route or the lowest common denominator country route. They just make good ol’ honky-tonk country music, but don’t forget how to cook it up to a fever pitch when need be. Boland’s latest effort is Rancho Alto, an eleven-track collection of vintage Boland.
Boland’s always been a strong lyricist with a knack for making the mundane seem spiritual and the mystical seem realistic and this album is no different. After the first couple passes through, the song I kept returning to was “Every Moment I’m Gone”. It’s a waltz, which you definitely don’t see very often anymore and it tracks the lonesome balance troubadours attempt between the highways and home. “Pushing Luck” is another standout which finds Boland at his honky-tonk rocking best as he spouts attitude at the things he doesn’t agree with. “Fences” finds Boland at his vocal best, fully recovered from his throat troubles of 2008 and sounding stronger than ever. Those are the tracks that stand out the most to me, but I guarantee you I could listen to this record two more times today and hear something else that grabs my attention and that’s part of Boland’s genius.
Rancho Alto is another in a consistent line of great records that Jason Boland and the Stragglers have made dating back to their Pearl Snaps debut. You know what you’re going to get with a Boland record and that’s comforting. He’s a country music virtuoso, he’s outlived his demons and we’re lucky to be living with him through his prime.