Jason Boland

Somewhere in the Middle

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If Jason Boland reminds one of David Allan Coe and Hank Williams, Jr., well, that's probably just fine with him. From the opening tune, he's determined to remind the listener -- as the Outlaws did in the '70s -- that country music ain't what it used to be. Whatever happened, after all, to good old boys who drank their bourbon straight, who considered fighting a hobby, and who had never heard of feminism? On the good side, this old-fashioned attitude means that Boland plays traditional country music because it's his music, not because he fell in love with it in college like Ryan Adams. He's not afraid, for instance, to use lots of pedal steel or even add fiddle and mandolin. At the same time, Boland -- like Waylon Jennings -- likes electric guitar, and doesn't mind adding a little rock & roll attitude to the mix. There are lots of good songs on Somewhere in the Middle, most written by Boland, and he's a good country singer. The only thing one might complain about is that certain songs -- "Hank" and "When I'm Stoned" -- seem way behind the times, even though that may be the point. Sure, he loves Hank Williams (who doesn't?), but does his woman really love him when he gets stoned? Still, anyone who misses the old rebels like Coe and Jennings will find Somewhere in the Middle the perfect album for honky tonk hopping.

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