Joshua Ray Walker — See You Next Time (State Fair Records)
Joshua Ray Walker is no wannabe country. A working musician since the age of 13, Walker first began honing his lyrical talents after the death of his beloved grandfather. He’s been hitting the touring circuit hard for years and slowly honing his craft, surrounding himself with just the right musicians to compliment his Texas croon.
See You Next Time all around is infectiously two-steppable from start to finish and makes me wish jukeboxes still took quarters. I just wanna hear that clink as the coin drops into the machine. The infectious “Three Strikes” is an instant Honky-Tonk classic, paying homage to Earnest Tubb, and Ray Price’s famous walking bass-line. I think “Cowboy” is probably my favorite track, harkening back to the golden 80’s-era George Strait country – calling out today’s frat boy country-for-the-weekender – “You spend your time thrift store denim shopping. You want someone at home to cook and do the mopping. You can talk the talk, but you can’t walk those. Dirt roads that you’ve seen.”
Directly competing with “Cowboy” is the unabashed, funny, and soulful “Sexy After Dark.” Complete with a 60’s horn section compliments of Geika James on trombone, Al Cedric Todd on trumpet, and Andrew Garfias on saxophone, this track clearly showcases both Josh’s vocal and musical versatility. It’s not hard to imagine this being the “Lighter in the Air” song when Josh hits the arenas.
Josh’s lyrical chops really shine on ‘Flash Paper’ with lines like ‘In a cigar box with notes and letters. And little things you’d usually pay no mind. Simple words mean more than all the syllables combine.’ Throw in a Springsteen howl and you’ve got a keeper on any playlist.
Probably the best thing about this record is its ability to dovetail between a myriad of styles without losing itself or Josh’s identity. There’s no try-hard. Just laid back smooth country. Just how I like it.
True to that communal spirit, See You Next Time closes out on its sing-along-ready title track: a fitting end to Walker’s trilogy and its tribute to the fleeting, yet possibly life-changing, connection to be found at your nearest honky-tonk. “There’s not a lot of pretension at a honky-tonk, and there’s much more interaction than in other bars—you see a lot less people on their phones,” says Walker. “We’re there to talk to other humans, put a song on the jukebox and dance with a stranger, get to know your bartender and tell them all your problems. I really wanted to capture that feeling on this record—I want everyone to feel like they know all these characters, and that they’re somehow better understood because these songs exist.”
With the help of Trey Pendergrass on drums, Billy Bones on bass, Nathan Mongol Wells on rhythm electric guitar, John Pedigo, Cory Graves, Abel Casilla, and Josh Fleming on background vocals, Adam “Ditch” Kurtz on pedal steel, Adam Duran on lead electric guitar, Heather Stalling on fiddle, Chad Stockslager on grand piano, and Matt Hillyer on lead electric guitar and baritone Guitar, the LP is complete Texas cookin’.
See You Next Time will be out Oct 8th.
In the meantime, you can check out Josh HERE: http://joshmorningstar.com
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