Joshua Hedley: Mr. Jukebox (Third Man Records, LLC)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is true “tear in my beer” honky tonk. And I am loving every second of this. It makes me want to cry and it is also completely uplifting. I guess it’s the same as looking at the car accident or putting your tongue in your cavity, even though you know it is going to lead to excruciating pain. People like living on the edge. This is about as “living on the edge” as I get. The bigger point is that Joshua Hedley is able to evoke real live emotion. And that is downright impressive.
If George Jones had a younger brother that no one knew about, it could be Joshua Hedley. I am not talking about looks, I am strictly describing the singing style. Joshua Hedley is a natural at singing and inflection. That is vitally important in country music and Joshua has hit a bullseye.
This is really tough album to pick out a few great songs. Every song on this collection not only has hit potential, but classic potential. If I have to go out on a limb and really dig deep, why not start at the beginning. Counting All My Tears (Track 1) is a tear jerking country song, complete with a talking part in the middle. Of course it is a break up song, and also a complete tissue box. Not a half or three quarters, a whole effin box!
The songs are so authentic and so vintage. They instantly take me back 40 years or more. Sometimes the most brilliant move is to go back in time and re-invent the sounds that people have never grown tired of. Mr. Jukebox (Track 2) is the prototypical song on this album that does just that. It could fit in perfectly in the mid 50s and it fits in perfectly now in 2018. This is such a powerful honky tonk number that it is an instant classic.
Let’s just go in order. Weird Thought Thinker(Track 3) immediately caught my attention because the backing music on this track reminds me of the music in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. That is a compliment of the highest order since Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the best movies ever made. Getting back to the song, the music is deceptively happy, go lucky. I say deceptively because this is a very sad song about loneliness and being a road warrior. “I am never alone on the road”. states Joshua. Every time I hear those words, it breaks my heart a little bit.
I realize I only highlighted three of the ten songs on this fine, fine album. If you know how to follow a trend (which I assume all of my readers can do), this album is trending upward. The three songs explained are very representative of the entire album. In other words, if you call your self a honky tonk lover, you should already own this. This is definitely destined to be a country music staple.