On his latest single, “Country & Western” Joshua Hedley sets the record straight. As a lifelong student of the expansive genre that is country music, he doesn’t need any fancy titles. He’s a country singer. Plain and simple.
However, you don’t need to hear “Country & Western” to know that Joshua Hedley is the real deal. You could check out his debut album Mr. Jukebox or any of the other singles from his upcoming record Neon Blue. The two projects sound almost completely different. The former is an exploration of the countrypolitan sounds of the 60s and the latter sounds like it would’ve burned up the charts in the early 90s. However, the thing that ties the two releases together is that they are both steeped in the traditions of country music.
Joshua Hedley Teaches a Country & Western Masterclass
Joshua Hedley co-penned “Country & Western” with Carson Chamberlain and Zach Top. In the opening lines of the song, he lets the world know exactly where he stands.
“They say I’m neofolk, a traditional outlaw. / Americana troubadour, that don’t sound like me at all. / I sing about real life, like drinking, cheating, and loving. / I’m what they used to call country music.”
Recently, Outsider talked to Joshua Hedley about his upcoming album and he shared story behind “Country & Western.” He said that when his debut album Mr. Jukebox started getting press, the majority of writers “did literary backflips” to avoid calling him a country singer.
“They would just make sh*t up,” he recalled. “Like ‘Americana trad oulaw folkster troubadour Joshua Hedley.’ And I’m like what the f*ck is that? Just say country singer. That’s it. Country singer. Country musician. That’s it. That’s what I do.”
In the chorus of “Country & Western” Joshua Hedley presents his hard-earned credentials. “I’m a singing professor of country and western. / I’ll cry along to a steel guitar in any only lonely bar. / And I’ll saw my fiddle, I might even drink a little. I’m a singing professor of country and western.” One thing is for sure, the current country music industry could stand to take a course or two from Prof. Hedley.
The Genuine Article
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. Joshua Hedley is the genuine article. If you’re looking for an artist whose music is steeped in the traditional sounds of country music, he’s your guy. However, he didn’t just learn those traditions passively. He’s spent his entire life paying dues and getting a hands-on education in the genre. Even now, as his star rises and his New West Records debut Neon Blue looms on the horizon, you can find Joshua at Robert’s Western World in Nashville playing classic country covers with his band The Hedliners.
Some industry exec didn’t just scoop him up, throw some boots on him, and hand him a stack of “country” songs to sing. No, Joshua Hedley is a dyed-in-the-wool country artist who makes the music that he loves.
I’ll close this with what was probably the most poignant quote from Hedley’s interview with Outsider. “I’m always going to bow to tradition. That’s the reverence that I have for country music.”
If you have any doubts, pull up your streaming service of choice and let the music speak for itself.
Neon Blue drops April 22nd.