Austin-based, Oklahoma-bred singer Jason Boland
enlisted Shooter Jennings to coproduce his new album, Dark & Dirty Mile
(Proud Souls/Thirty Tigers), but Waylon Jennings would’ve cast a long shadow over the music even if his son hadn’t been involved. Nowadays country singers usually avoid pessimism, preferring to brush off intractable problems with tired bromides, but Boland isn’t afraid to sound dark, deploying his clenched drawl over scrappy, no-fuss arrangements whose simmering intensity recalls vintage outlaw country. The unvarnished honky-tonk shuffle “Electric Bill” describes the narrator’s attempts to salve the pain of financial ruin with the company of an enduring love and some weed, and “Nine Times Out of Ten”
looks at the way seemingly omnipotent government authorities stack the cards against the common man. “They Took It Away” breaks sharply from the jingoism all too common in modern country, linking environmental pollution by big corporations to the westward expansion of the U.S. via large-scale theft of land from Native Americans. Boland may sound like a good old boy, but he’s about tough truths, not just cold beers. —Peter Margasak Brushville opens.