Independent country torchbearers Jason Boland & The Stragglers have announced their ninth studio album Hard Times Are Relative, releasing May 18th via Thirty Tigers. Together with his longtime band The Stragglers, Jason Boland has remained a true craftsman of genuine, no-frills country music for nearly two decades. In a genre that too often focuses on style over substance, Boland puts substance at the forefront with his intelligent, insightful lyricism that challenges listeners to think beyond the obvious. His unwavering aversion to artifice and audacious attitude is reminiscent of the genre's forbearers, while his deep, baritone delivery and the band's spirited live performances have earned them a fiercely loyal following. Hard Times Are Relative finds Jason Boland & The Stragglers once again expanding the boundaries of what country music can be, while staying true to its original purpose: storytelling in the purest form.
Hard Times Are Relative is immediately gratifying country with a conscience and a shot of adrenaline. The theme running throughout much of the album focuses on our complicated relationship with the past and accepting the inevitability of change. Songs such as "Do You Remember When" and "Tattoo Of A Bruise" address the need to preserve our history, while "Predestined" questions how much we control the future. Hard Times Are Relative was recorded live to tape, a trademark of the band, and co-produced by The Stragglers, David Percefull and Adam Odor.
Jason Boland & The Stragglers is a band with staying power. Taking a true DIY approach, with a crew of honky-tonk aces that currently includes Grant Tracy (bass), Brad Rice (drums and background vocals) and Nick Worley (fiddle, mandolin, and harmonies), the band has sold over a half million albums independently and continues to pack houses all over the country. Their explosive live performances and jangly, gritty albums have established a large and devoted fanbase that is not limited by geography. Critics seem to agree, as previous releases have garnered positive coverage from press including The New York Times, Garden & Gun, American Songwriter, The Wall Street Journal, Billboard and many more.
Recently, there has been a healthy resurgence of artists inspired by country traditions ranging from classic to outlaw. Jason Boland has always stood as a beacon of honoring the genre's history while pushing forward to widen its borders. Hard Times Are Relative is yet another solid offering from a band that proves having one foot in tradition doesn't have to be limiting. Thankfully, substantive, quality country music has been right in front of us all along, and it doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.