Joshua Hedley turned heads (no pun intended) with the release of his 2018 debut album, Mr. Jukebox, and is well-know as a longtime staple of Nashville’s live music scene.
A frequent player at Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway, Hedley calls Robert’s Western World the “last holdout” on street full of bar bands that have turned to mediocre Journey covers and “Wagon Wheel” after a group of drunk bachelorettes dropped way too much money in the tip jar.
Not to mention that most of the bars on Broadway that are owned by country music singers pretty much turn into nightclubs at night. But if you wanna hear country music, Robert’s is the place:
“It’s the last holdout. It’s exactly the same now as it was when I started playing there seventeen years ago. It never doesn’t feel like home because it never doesn’t feel familiar.
I don’t plan on ever, ever leaving that place! They’re going to either have to fire me or I’m gonna have to die. I don’t see either of those things happening anytime soon.”
And while Hedley’s debut studio album has a old school vibe reminiscent of the ’50s and ’60s, this new album, titled Neon Blue, is straight outta the heartbeat of ’90s country:
“The last bastion of country music 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?'”
Can I get a ‘hell yeah’?
Seeking help from producers Skylar Wilson and Jordan Lehning, as well as top session players and songwriters like Carson Chamberlain, Wyatt McCubbin, and Zach Top.
“If I was gonna make this happen, I knew I had to do some co-writing. Carson brought in Wyatt McCubbin and Zach Top, and pretty soon the ideas were bouncing off each other like molecules in an atom.
The sound is modern, but it’s still discernibly country. 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.”
He released the lead single and title track today, a song that he says set the tone for the entire album:
“For whatever reason that title just popped into my head, and I was obsessed with it. You’ve got the neon lights of a honkytonk, but you’ve also got that sadness. It was amazing to see how they can turn a loose idea into a really tight song.
It was a crazy learning experience, and I came out feeling like a better songwriter. We got the vibe for the album from ‘Neon Blue,’ and every other song was built around it.”
Neon Blue is set to drop on April 22nd… get excited.
NEON BLUE TRACKLIST:
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