It's been a couple of years since Dallas' Grant Jones & the Pistol Grip Lassos released their last album, a self-titled disc of supremely straight-forward country. For the new album, however, Jones chose to follow an inspired vision he's harbored for the last few years.
Saints, Sinners & Liars will be a digital-only release for now, and paints Jones as a storyteller, but the sonic nature of the album is also unique. Recorded at Junius Studios in Dallas, there's not a single acoustic guitar to be heard, and the drums blast with a startling urgency that never allows the listener to be a bystander. As for a thematic concept, the collection of tunes is tied together by the stories of a small town and the down and out residents who have tales to tell.
If this album had been released a couple of weeks ago, it would've absolutely made its way onto our best local releases of 2012 1/2. For an early taste, hit Jones' ReverbNation page and check out "Holding On," a heartbreaking duet with Amber Farris of Somebody's Darling. In advance of tonight's album release show at LaGrange, Jones gave us a quick rundown of the stories that lie within Saints, Sinners & Liars.
"The whole record basically revolves around a single girl and a meth addict trying to cope with his demons," Jones says. "On the record, the girl is referred to as both Tammy and Lacy. Her story is a non-chronological look at the men that have come in and out of her life and the circumstances that have led them to that point, where we find them in that particular song."
While the concept seems pretty straight-forward, Jones uses an effectively loose and fluid method to convey it. The album never bogs down for the sake of keeping the concept alive. Of course, Jones still wants to make a point with his story.
"It's also a commentary on small-town America as we know it today," he says. "There's a lot of shit going on in small-town USA that nobody wants to talk about. For every "We'll Put a Boot Up Your Ass Cuz It's the 'Merican Way" piece of shit, there are thousands of real everyday tragedies nobody sings about."
Jones even broke down the album into what he calls "chapters" and explains them below.
Track 1. "Saints, Sinners & Liars" Track 2. "Save My Life" Track 6. "Fireflies"
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"This is the story of our girl and the, for lack of a better term, "ramblin' man" whom she has found herself caught up with. Though these are the beginning tracks, this is the end of this particular story. "Fireflies" is the genesis of this story line."
Track 3. "Piss It Away"
"Tammy was sexually abused by a family member as a young woman and thought no one knew. One person did know and took matters into his own hands, killing that family member with his own addiction. This is where we are introduced to the meth addict as a young man."
Track 4. "Holding On" (duet with Amber Farris of Somebody's Darling) Track 5. "Back In Brownwood" Track 6. "Fireflies" Track 7. "Wish You Were Here" (Pink Floyd cover)
"Our character is a young woman who just wants to get the hell out of her small town, but finds herself knocked-up by her high school sweetheart. How do you do the right thing when there is seemingly no future in it for you? Do they want to do the right thing? What is the right thing? Getting married and joining the Army? That's where these characters find themselves, and when the character from chapter one swoops in. "Wish You Were Here" fits in perfectly here, I feel."
Track 8. "Amphetamine" Track 9. "Crawling"
"We catch up with our character from "Piss It Away" in these two songs that focus on the addict's realization of everything he has lost and wants to get back. With drug addicts, particularly meth because of its total destructive nature, it's not just about kicking the habit. After the habit is addressed and put under control, there's the complete and utter path of destruction in its wake that has to be addressed. It's the crack epidemic of white America that we politely sweep under the rug. There's not a single family in rural Texas that this drug has not impacted. If it takes a punch in the gut of a country song to get a dialog started, then so be it."
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Track 10. "Ain't Seen You Round In Years"
"This is the song where we get a little bit of hope. A hint of "what if?" A sense that despite it all, everything just might turn out OK. Sometimes "just OK" is a hell of a lot better than where we've been."