After 11 years, endless touring, and six previous studio and live albums, Red Dirt country rockers Jason Boland & the Stragglers arrive on the national scene -- via the Billboard charts with High in the Rockies. Compiled from four nights of concert recordings in Colorado and Wyoming (and impeccably recorded), the 19-song set is a carefully balanced mix of fan favorites and the band's standards. After Boland had a polyp removed from his throat and an extended break, this refreshed and revitalized group issues its finest moment ever. Employing the stomp and swagger of '70s outlaw music, country rock, and a love of genuine vintage country, this group who bucks the contemporary country trends in favor of creating a genuine, raw, pedal steel, electric guitar, bass, and drums mix (that also includes killer mandolin and acoustic guitar work that works equally well on the burners as well as the ballads and midtempo numbers. Boland is a genuine country poet as revealed on "No Reason Being Late," "Blowing Through the Hills," "Backslider's Blues," and "Bottle by My Bed." The Stragglers also pay homage to the legends of country like Merle Haggard and Danny Flowers respectively on spirited covers of "Rainbow Stew," and "Tulsa Time." In addition, they pay homage to one of Americana music's greatest living songwriters with an excellent version of Tom Russell's classic "Gallo de Cielo." It's strange for a live album to signal the true artistic arrival of a band that has been slogging it out for such a long time building a dedicated -- and even fanatical -- fan base, but that is certainly the case on High in the Rockies.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek