Back in 2017 I discovered this absolute gem of a Country Music artist, as by chance I strolled into Robert’s Western World to check out this man that a friend of mine referred me to named Mr. Joshua Hedley. I was always into hardcore Country and the more traditional it was, the more I loved it. I have always frequented Nashville ever since I moved here way back in 1996, like so many are doing now…it’s crowded here folks…don’t move here now.
I have a shit ton of respect for this man ( even though we may not be in agreement on many personal issues ) and his extensive knowledge of true Country Music and his signature vocal style that sets him apart from all of his peers. I consider myself a huge Janissary of Country Music, and I will go toe to toe with anybody on my own knowledge of it. However, when I meet people that clearly defeat my echelon of skill on the subject I have no problem admiring that!
Now many times I went to Robert’s with company and took them there to drink and hear some great bands play cover songs all day or night. I mean, that is actually what Broadway is now for the most part. When one of my friends encounter someone out there playing original songs THEY wrote, while at the same time gathering a big fan base, they come tell me. Those are the qualities I look for in artists to cover on this website here.
I was just absolutely amazed at how genuine this man was toward the genre and toward the tourists he was playing to. He was belting out obscure things from Gentleman Jim Reeves and at the same time he was doing songs by commonly mentioned names down there like George Jones. Now here is the thing I wanted to point out about that latter name I just dropped..95 percent of the players down there on lower braodway all play the well known George Jones songs they usually get requested.
I mean, I sat there and listened to him play the song “Tarnished Angel” from the early 60’s. He is 100 percent correct…Jones does indeed have a bigger catalog than just his Outlaw Era albums that Mr. Billy Sherill produced. He has a bunch of Starday label songs that are just absolute fire, and Joshua Hedley can play through every one of them.
He was a part of the Old Crow Medicine Shows that I have been to at the Ryman on New Year’s Night Read more on that here., and I hope that he agrees with me that the song Wagon Wheel isn’t such a bad song if it’s played by Old Crow on that stage! Through the years I have indeed had the distinct pleasure of seeing him all over the place in town until the day he finally released one of the most amazing albums in the last 10 years called Mr. Jukebox on Third Man Records. which got my vote for album of thee year that year on here.
After that album was released, apparently right around the same time I entered rehab for a bad pill addiction, I learned that he too had addictions. I went through some extensive therapy and detox myself to be 2 years clean of drinking and drugs as well. And I hope to one day shake his hand from one sober recovered addict to another. But my friends that is exactly what makes his music so honest and his lyrics so transpicuous by people who are alcoholics and addicts.
For a man to openly admit the reason he hasn’t toured or has many functions on his resume, was because of his drug and alcohol dependencies is beyond admirable and I like him even more for this honesty. I think he deserves another chance to speak to us through his music.. this man is the modern era version of what Merle Haggard influenced Alan Jackson to be….the singer of the common man.
He has followed that album with another hard Honky Tonk banger called “Neon Blue”, an album that has an extremely traditional core while it takes you on a journey to an era a little later than the first album. See the way the songs are presented and performed one the first album take you to the 60s style Country, like the voices singing bum bum bum on the chorus. This album got a little more modern resonating loudly during the 90s Country era.
Songs like “Country And Western” pretty much sum up the whole process of trying to categorize this man and the songs he plays. His vocal delivery on this album clearly gets his point across, he wants the sinners and cheaters to feel at home here. With songs like “Down To my Last Lie”, he vents his frustration with all of the lies he has to keep coming up with just to live this double life he has here.
So many talented musicians make up this album to be one of the year’s top choices for crying in your beer and looking into the mirror at yourself. I mean, if he can play songs like “Found In A Bar” while maintaining his sobriety why can’t I ? Why can’t I too draw strength and inspiration from his songs?
If you study that song it actually makes a pellucid point that good, honest love CAN BE found in a bar after all! You encounter things in bars that you put into them sometimes, and I know I still go to bars to listen to people like him pour their hearts out in their stages.
Official Press Release:
JOSHUA HEDLEY SIGNS TO NEW WEST RECORDS
RETURNS WITH NEON BLUE APRIL 22nd, 2022
Joshua Hedley will release his anticipated new album Neon Blue on April 22nd, 2022 via New
West Records. The 12-song set was co-produced by Jordan Lehning (Rodney Crowell) & Skylar
Wilson (Justin Townes Earle) and mixed by Kyle Lehning (George Strait, Randy Travis). Neon
Blue is the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2018 debut Mr. Jukebox, which was released by
Jack White’s Third Man Records. Hedley’s breakout debut showcased his deep knowledge of
country music history, in particular the beery ballads of the 1950s and ‘60s. His mentors were
George Jones, Ray Price, and Glen Campbell, but his most remarkable accomplishment was
putting his own spin on their style. Neon Blue, on the other hand, examines a very different,
often forsaken era: the early 1990s.
“The last bastion of country music,” says Hedley, “was the early 1990s, roughly 1989 through
1996. You could turn on the radio and immediately know you’re hearing a country song. You
could still hear steel guitar and fiddle. But there was a hard fork around 1996 or ‘97, when
country veered off into pop territory. Neon Blue asks, What if that fork never happened? What if
country kept on sounding like country?”
The era may have been dismissed by traditionalists at the time as slick or overproduced, but
Hedley finds something exciting in that sound. Neon Blue plays up the excitement of
bigger-than-life choruses, the relatable emotions of those sad-eyed ballads, and the
inventiveness of the lively production. Hedley says, “The sound is modern, but it’s still
thousand lighters held high during an encore. After making Mr. Jukebox with a close group of
friends, Hedley decided to record his follow-up with professional session players — a Nashville
tradition. Lehning & Wilson corralled an all-star crew featuring some of the city’s best players,
who made Hedley step up his game. “All the players on this record are the people who are
playing on Top 40 hits. They’re the professionals playing two or three sessions a day, and it was
crazy to see them work…I came in with skeletons and they put flesh on them. They made them
into human beings,” Hedley shares.
Hedley has been a presence in Nashville for nearly twenty years, although you have to know
where to find him. You have to brave the tourists on Broadway downtown, bypass the
three-story bars blasting Journey, and make your way to Robert’s Western World, a
time-capsule honkytonk from a different era.
Fried Bologna” color vinyl in tribute to the late night sandwich favorite being served up to
Robert’s patrons nightly. Joshua Hedley’s Neon Blue will be available across digital platforms, on compact disc, and standard black vinyl. An extremely limited to 150 “Robert’s Fried Bologna” color vinyl edition autographed by Joshua Hedley will be available at Independent Retailers across Tennessee.
A limited “Coke Bottle Clear” color vinyl edition, as well as an autographed compact disc edition,
will be available at Independent Retailers worldwide. Limited, signed compact discs and a
limited, transparent blue color vinyl edition autographed by Joshua Hedley is available for
pre-order NOW via NEW WEST RECORDS.
Joshua Hedley Neon Blue Track Listing:
1. Broke Again
2. Country & Western
3. Old Heartbroke Blues
4. The Last Thing In The World
5. Down To My Last Lie
6. Free (One Heart)
7. Neon Blue
8. Bury Me With My Boots On
9. Found In A Bar
10. Let’s Make A Memory
11. Wonder If You Wonder
12. River In The Rain