Whew child. This album has been on my “need to write about” list for months. Many times I thought about just scratching the album off the list and moving on, but then all I had to do was listen to the album again to know I had to tell y’all about it.
Hang Jones is the stage moniker of San Francisco singer/songwriter Stephen Grillos and last year he released a little concept album called The Ballad of Carlsbad County. The album tells the story of William Bishop, the son of a notorious outlaw. Growing up, William struggles with the stigma of his father’s legacy as well as his own destiny. William keeps finding himself in situations where doing the right thing will doom him to walk the same path as his father, a man he views amoral, and like all great tales of the West someone is bound to get shot in this one.
The idea for the concept album wasn’t the starting point of The Ballad of Carlsbad County so much as an unexpected surprise. The whole thing was born from the notion that two songs he had written, “Caroline” and “Red”, would work really well as chapters in a story. Thus was the genesis of The Ballad of Carlsbad County and the end result has been featured on shows such as The Black Donnellys, Quarterlife and one of my favorite shows, Friday Night Lights.
Given all this back story you can assume that the end result is up to snuff. I say it’s 100% Essential Listening. Check it out for yourself: