Jason Boland and the Stragglers began their domination of the Red Dirt/Texas Country scene in 1999 with their debut album, Pearl Snaps. Since then, they’ve released nine studio records and two live albums.
Over the years, they’ve maintained the instantly recognizable regional sound with plenty of electric guitar, pedal steel, and fiddle. Their upcoming 10th album, The Light Saw Me, out December 3, will sound much the same. Lyrically, though, it’s out of this world.
Jason Boland took a few minutes to chat with Outsider about the new album, how it came about, and what he’d like listeners to get from it.
Everybody Wants to Do a Concept Album
Jason Boland: I think a lot of bands kick around, “Let’s do a concept album.” You always do. Like how a rock band says, “We should do a country record” or a country band says, “We should do a rock record.”
Then, just something about “Terrifying Nature.” That song is addressing an existential crisis that everybody goes through, “Why are we here? Is anything eternal? Does love matter or is it just all chemicals in our brain?” Once that song got conceptualized and I had a couple of other tunes like “The Light Saw Me” that I was working on. “The Light Saw Me” materialized and I thought, “Well, what if it was this guy?” And then all the pieces of yarn in the crazy room started to stack up.
This was pre-COVID, and I was really glad that something that could already dip this dark didn’t have that filter to look through.
The Story at a Glance
Jason Boland: The inspiration is people’s transformative experiences with light. Lots of key moments throughout history, we’re told, have been accompanied by intense beams of light. The Light Saw Me is pretty much that narrative straight through. He’s followed by that light, he tells people about it, becomes persecuted for it. And then he’s gone and he’s back and it’s the future. And it just plays out from there. “Restless Spirits” is the moment that he ties it all together in his mind. Then he wanders off into the desert. Who knows? We might get into future adventures.
Jason Boland: We did some subtle things on [The Light Saw Me]. I think part of the sonic craziness of it is using subtle effects here and there and still playing all of the album ourselves. Somehow, it sounds more produced by being less produced in certain ways. Like, not overdoing too many things to make it sound cosmic and crazy. But, we did certain things. Like on the opening lick, I played the phaser and we double that. We also changed drum kits. Then, we brought in Ken Layne from Desert Oracle Radio for the narration.
We Are Not Alone
Jason Boland: As far as what I hope people get out of the record, I hope they’re as moved by it as when I think about albums that moved me. And, I hope they hear it and it resonates with them. Everybody always says they hope it makes you feel like you’re not alone or there’s something going on there that you identify with. Even beyond that, you create your own world with its own soundtrack. I hope it doesn’t stand in the way of anything you’re wanting to do within that soundtrack. Hear it and enjoy it.