Jason Boland & The Stragglers’ eighth album, Squelch, will be released October 9th via Proud Souls/Thirty Tigers. Squelch stays true to what Boland and his band have consistently done: make genuine country music. There’s an honesty, intelligence and substance to their songs; songs that not only make you dance, but also illicit thought and emotion. Squelch’s eleven new tracks, brought to life by Boland’s baritone and the undeniably stellar musicianship of The Stragglers: Cody Angel (guitars/pedal steel), Nick Worley (fiddle), Grant Tracy (bass) and Brad Rice (drums), unite in an album that does all of that and then some.
Appropriately, Squelch kicks off with “Break 19,” which sets the tone for the album. While those words are trucker slang for gaining access to a channel and speaking, here they take on a deeper meaning. “Nothing’s coming through but the static/All I can hear anymore is the noise.” That is followed by ten well-written, evocative story songs that touch on life and relationships as well as social and political issues.
The rootsy “Heartland Bypass” chronicles life’s travels, roaming til the reckoning “paying out the interest on borrowed time.” While the gritty rocker, “Lose Early” asserts that “getting by is not the best that we can do.” Unexpectedly a toe tapper, the ironic, sad and absorbing “Christmas in Huntsville” is a story song about a man unjustly imprisoned and down to his last hours on death row at Christmastime.
Relationships are the focus of the romantic waltz, “Bienville” which tells of love found after “years spent wishin’” for “another lost soul with a travelin’ mind” and the heartfelt, questioning, yet hopeful “Do You Love Me Any Less” poses that question from a man who is frequently away from home. “He said don’t forget me or let your feelings change/Out there such a long time I pray we stay the same.”
There’s a mosh-pit punk frenzy (here, a good thing) in the 2:03 of “I Guess It’s Alright To Be An Asshole” which is filled with sharp, truth filled lyrics while “Fat and Merry,” with its two steppin’ melody, finds disenchantment with the complacency of people who live life without thinking of the consequences for anyone except for themselves. Closing out the record, “Fuck, Fight and Rodeo” makes a political statement with a twang, pointing out hypocrisy in government, the high cost of living and how “nothing's ever gonna change with their kind running the show.”
Find the frequency. Gain access to the channel. Eliminate the noise. Tune into Squelch.
Pre-order Squelch here