Once upon a time in 2007, musician Ceschi Ramos got into an arm-wrestling match with a Marine at a house party in Hawaii. Simple fun, no? Well, he left that match with a spiral fracture of his humerus—his competitor was a Marine, after all. Years later, Ceschi has now readied a full-length LP entitled Broken Bone Ballads, whose name comes from that fateful bit of arm wrestling.
Broken Bone Ballads, the fourth release from this New Haven, Connecticut musician, comes from his struggles battling in court for over three years and anticipating a prison sentence due to drug related charges, all the while trying to maintain an indie record label and pay bills as a working musician out on bond. This results in some potent lyrical meditations on the fear of jail (“How will the prison showers be? / Will I have to punch somebody just to get clean?” on “Say Something”) and what his career as a musician means to him (“I’d rather play floor gigs for 40 kids than any… festival stage / I’m a martyr at most / I’m a failure at least / In the eyes of history I’ll be no more than a leaf on a tree” on “Beauty for Bosses”). With sonic deviations that include hip-hop, acoustic punk, and off-kilter indie folk, Broken Bone Ballads tells a complicated and intriguing story well through a diverse sonic collage.
Ramos says to PopMatters about the album, “Broken Bone Ballads is my first album since 2010. Releasing it feels like purging five years of bile from my guts. It’s a blatantly autobiographical record of progressive hip hop and orchestrated ‘folk’ tunes created with Factor Chandelier out of years of broken bones, struggle, failure, death, court dates, prison, and loss, but somehow winds up being triumphant. It’s a record that can be critical of human destruction, technology, and political structures, but it ultimately speaks from a perspective of cherishing life.”
Broken Bone Ballads is out on 7 April via Fake Four.