High In The Rockies17Mar, 2010
Jason Boland & The Stragglers—acclaimed for their distinctive, hard-charging and rootsy brew of country and rock—achieve a new artistic peak with HIGH IN THE ROCKIES: A LIVE ALBUM. Due for release on April 20, the 80-minute, proudly overdub-free disc was recorded during four consecutive shows in Colorado and Wyoming in January 2010, and captures the energy and dexterity of a band who average over 200 shows a year and who have sold over 200,000 albums in their decade-long career (see tour dates below). HIGH IN THE ROCKIES marks the fiercely independent and acclaimed Texas Red Dirt band’s second live album and singer-songwriter-guitarist Boland’s second release on his own label, Proud Souls Entertainment, in conjunction with the Apex Nashville label and Thirty Tigers distribution.
Crackling with the raw outlaw voltage that has made them one of the fastest-rising forces in contemporary country, the quintet’s execution and delivery is uniformly impressive, and with material divided between Stragglers standards and fan favorites, the album rises to a profound new elevation that is reflected in a most fitting choice of title. Whether reveling in the Okie kickback groove of “Tulsa Time”—the album’s first single and video—or re-defining the epic despair of Boland’s classic “Bottle By My Bed,” their sound, characterized by ebullient musicianship and passionate vocals, links country music’s past to its future with admirable expertise. Illuminated by luxurious employ of dobro, fiddle and mandolin, HIGH IN THE ROCKIES is a perfect mix of the progressive and the traditional.
Every song here by Boland and his bandmates—Roger Ray on steel, lead guitar and dobro; fiddler Noah Jeffries; bassist Grant Tracy; and drummer Brad Rice—is delivered with an invigorated emphasis, and titles like “Comal County Blue” and “Backslider Blues” resonate with fresh new contours, while the case-hardened tenderness of “Jesus And Ruger” again underscores Boland’s mastery as a lyricist and interpreter.
“It was time for a live album, and also to get a photograph of the five of us now,” Boland said. “I’m really happy with the material we chose. It stems from The Bourbon Legend and Comal County Blue and we went back and mined a couple of our older songs, and songs like Merle Haggard’s ‘Rainbow Stew’ and Tom Russell’s ‘Gallo Del Cielo,’ that fans kept requesting and never let die.”
Loaded with banging drama, wry observations and soul-deep expression, HIGH IN THE ROCKIES documents an extraordinary transformative period for the band and continues the fulfillment of Jason Boland and The Stragglers’ extraordinary promise. “We got over being young and the entrapment of limitations on your instrument, vocals, writing--and the entrapments of life, love, chemicals.” Boland said. “I’ve reached the point where I don’t over-think it and simply do the music honestly. I don’t care about fame or the pop culture machine--you’ll never see us on ‘Nashville Star’ or ‘American Idol.’ We look to the populist grassroots, we’re not in it for fame and cash. Seriously, it’s all about living free.”
See the video for “Tulsa Time” here: http://www.thestragglers.com/stragglers_tv.php