My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Joshua Hedley

Hidden gems of 2018

Here are my favorite album tracks of the year, omitting the albums which made my best albums of the year list.

10. Jay Bragg – ‘The Dreamer’ (from Honky Tonk Dream)
Honky tonker Bragg’s debut album may be only eight tracks, but it’s a strong collection. Best of the bunch is this pensive reflection on how strongly rooted a love is.

9. Kathy Mattea – ‘Mercy Now’ (from Pretty Bird)
A spare, tender version of Mary Gauthier’s song.

8. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – ‘Hard Times Are Relative’ (from Hard Times Are Relative)
A moving story song about a pair of young siblings supporting one another.

7. Catherine Britt – ‘The River And The Gum’ (from Catherine Britt & The Cold Cold Hearts)
Australia’s Catherine Britt retruned to her traditional roots for her latest album. This folk-country ballad is a delight.

6. Ashley McBryde – ‘Girl Goin’ Nowhere’ (from Girl Going Nowhere)
An excellent, thoughtful song about the lif of a struggling musician and what makes it worthwhile. It should get some more attention this coming year, as the track has just been announced as Ashley’s new single.

5. Joshua Hedley – ‘Counting All My Tears’ (from Mr Jukebox)
Very retro, and very good. This sounds like a forgotten classic from the early 1960s.

4. Mandy Barnett – ‘Lock Stock And Teardrops’ (from Various Artists, King Of The Road: A Tribute To Roger Miller)
An exquisite version of a classic.

3. Cody Jinks – ‘Somewhere Between I Love You And I’m Leavin’’ (from Lifers)
A strong song about a relationship on the verge from a rather mixed album.

2. Pistol Annies – ‘When I Was His Wife’ (from Interstate Gospel)
The trio’s latest album didn’t qute make my top 10 of the year, but it is a strong and artistically ambitious collection. The barbed lyric of the best song on the album, set to a sweetly vulnerable country melody, reflects on an acrimonious divorce.

1. Oak Ridge Boys – ‘If I Die Drinking’ (from 17th Avenue Revival)
A magisterial gospel reading of a wonderful song previously recorded by its co-writer Vince Gill. (The other writer was Ashley Monroe.)

Album Review: Joshua Hedley – ‘Mr Jukebox’

Joshua Hedley is the latest young singer to steep himself in the sounds of country music of the past. Signed to rock star Jack White’s private label, his debut album was produced by Skyler Wilson and Jordan (son of Kyle) Lehning. This is not merely traditional, it is self-consciously (sometimes too much so) retro-traditional, to the point, at times, of pastiche. While the songs are mostly newly composed (mostly by Hedley himself), they would not be remotely out of place in a record made in 1963.

Joshua has a strong, deep voice with a touch of vibrato, which is showcased best on the opening track. This is a genuinely superb ballad laced with steel guitar. The protagonist encounters an ex he has done wrong, after many years; she has moved on and he not only hasn’t, he has no wish to do so.

The title track is an excellent shuffle which serves as a tribute to the great country music of the era the album salutes. Also great is the ballad ‘This Time’.

Joshua takes on the Bakersfield Sound in ‘These Walls’, another very good song about a broken heart.

‘I Never (Shed A Tear)’ is a mid paced song about a broken heart again, and denial of the same. This one doesn’t suit Hedley’s voice as well as other songs, with the emotion flattened out, and the retro backing voices just sound dated rather than retro-cool. ‘Let’s Take A Vacation’ is a dreamy ballad edging into a more sophisticated countrypolitan style, while ‘Weird Thought Thinker’ has a western feel.

‘Don’t Waste Your Tears’ is heavily strung but the song, another ballad, suits the lower ranges of Hedley’s voice extremely well. ‘Let Them Talk’ is a more hardcore honky tonk tune which is highly enjoyable, with fun male call and response backing vocals. It is all too short, at under two minutes.

Listening to this record, I feel the lack of a duet or two – I’d love to hear Joshua taming up with someone like Amber Digby.

The only misstep comes at the end of the set, with the only cover, a flat version of the Disney classic ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’.

Overall, though, despite the occasional sense of deliberate copying, this is an excellent album which I recommend to all more traditional country fans.

Grade: A-