Diamonds & Gasoline
Red 11 Music

In parts of Jason Boland’s “Tulsa Time” video, he’s sporting a t-shirt emblazoned Turnpike Troubadours. In my experience, most artists of quality don’t go around plastering themselves with bands that suck, so I was quick to check this Troubadours thing out, and in doing so discovered my favorite new act of the year so far. What I most appreciate about the Tahlequah, Okla., band’s Diamonds & Gasoline album is the simplicity of the songs — what it lacks in instrumental acrobatics and retread Outlaw bravado, it makes up for in spades with melodies like maple syrup and thought-provoking, relatable stories (my wife muttered, “Damn, that’s poetry” upon her first listen). The opening salvo, “Every Girl,” a thoughtful, gentle salute to the crazy chick we all know and some of us love, features an utterly infectious vocal melody that immediately grabs the ear like a pit bull. A chance encounter with lost love comes to life right there in the grocery store in “7 & 7,” complete with the universal mourning for what could have been, but was never meant to be. Sopping with tradition, but also very much an original work, Diamonds & Gasoline is the kind of opening act that a band may find a bit difficult to follow, but for now, the Turnpike Troubadours have my appreciation for kicking the bar a couple clicks higher. — CHRIS MOSSER