Jason Boland & The Stragglers: Dark & Dirty Mile

Dark & Dirty Mile is a honky-tonk country record that delivers a smooth Southern sound. The 11-track album revolves around getting through hard times while keeping an optimistic mind. In “Electric Bill,” the song talks about making the best of a situation: “And if they take away everything it won’t take us apart/We’ll roll some kill in the electric bill and smoke it in the dark.” The violin and banjo jump out as classically bright notes throughout the 50-minute full-length and contrasts well against the lead singer’s deep, rustic vocals. Dark & Dirty Mile has pure Texas-driven influences that capture the essence of country with the right amount of twang.

There is a definite cohesiveness that flows from start to finish, making it an easy-listening experience, but my main critique is that I didn’t feel any songs that were truly notable. The closest contender was the opening track, “Dark And Dirty Mile,” because it contains some catchy, thought-provoking content, singing, “It’s a broken-hearted world that we inherit.” It almost feels as though the songs got lost in one another’s similarity. Dark & Dirty Mile appears to be softer, mature and even a bit safer than their previous releases, as 2004’s Somewhere In The Middle and 2010’s High In The Rockies packed more of an upbeat Southern punch. Overall, Dark & Dirty Mile is a decent record that doesn’t inspire many negative critiques. It has clean production value, some wistful lyrics alongside repetitive choruses, and most of all it is country to the core.

In A Word: Honky-Tonk