Joshua Hedley Fasts Forward to the 90’s on New Album ‘Neon Blue’
Considered by many as the Mayor of Lower Broadway in Nashville, singer and songwriter Joshua Hedley has made a name for himself by keeping the history and sound of true country music alive through his music, both as a performer (you can catch him Friday afternoons and Monday nights at Robert’s Western World), and as a recording artist, releasing his debut album Mr. Jukebox in 2018.
Mr. Jukebox was very much a classic, neotraditional effort by Mr. Hedley, hearkening back to the Golden Era of country music indicative of the 50’s and early 60’s, and the Countrypolitan sound. But for his next trick, he’s moving things up a few decades, and is working to revitalize the country sounds of the late 80’s and early 90’s that are making a retro resurgence at the moment.
“The last bastion of country music was the early 1990s, roughly 1989 through 1996,” says Hedley. “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 answer is what you hear in the title track of Hedley’s new album called Neon Blue, released ahead of the album’s April 22nd release date on New West Records. The 12 songs were produced by Skylar Wilson and Jordan Lehning, whose father Kyle Lehning was responsible for all of those Randy Travis records, and a few from George Strait too. Kyle Lehning also mixed the record, so you know it comes with that distinctive 90’s touch Joshua Hedley was going for.
Under a similar philosophy, instead of calling his close friends from Lower Broadway to play on the record, Hedley used Nashville’s hot shot session musicians to get that slick, but twangy sound the era was known for. “The sound is modern, but it’s still discernibly country,” Hedley says. “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.”
But don’t worry, there will still be plenty of that vintage Lower Broadway and Robert’s Western World mystique to this record, including a very limited edition of 150 “Robert’s Fried Bologna” color vinyl editions of Neon Blue autographed by Joshua Hedley that will be available at independent record retailers across Tennessee.
“It’s the last holdout,” Hedley says of Robert’s Western World. “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.”
Neon Blue is now available for pre-order.
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
February 4, 2022 @ 8:43 am
I.love.it. It sounds like a hit from the early 90s.
February 4, 2022 @ 8:52 am
I thought he wasn’t going to make another studio album. Glad he had a change of heart.
February 4, 2022 @ 8:59 am
I dig it. I really, really liked his first album a lot. Imma have to give this one a try as well. I remember the first time I heard “Mr. Jukebox”. I was in Heaven for about 3 minutes. “That sound? Today?”, I thought. And this will do as well.
February 4, 2022 @ 10:08 am
Funny. When his Third Man record came out, he said something to the effect that after 1964 Country Music was dead. And he stuck to that story. Now hes changed his opinion to include early 90s. Haha…
I think what hes doing is fine. Live, hes a blast. He plays and entertains at Roberts with the best of them. I spoke with him at a gig once, he told me he has zero interest in fame, awards etc. And he means it. (Though he does play The Opry) I think the guy is happy doing Roberts, and why not? You make great money in tips. And you literally get a revolving audience without having to tour.
David: The Duke of Everything
February 4, 2022 @ 9:02 am
Well going by that song there, yea it definitely has a 90s sound. Not too bad though I don’t really love that particular song. Will be interesting to hear rest of it.
February 4, 2022 @ 9:17 am
Oh heck yeah. I’ve been waiting for more from Joshua.
Big fan of this guy and very excited to see new music from him. Listened to a lot of his livestreams during the height of Covid, and glad to have some new studio music for the rotation.
February 4, 2022 @ 9:22 am
Would have loved more original music in the same style as his last album, but I imagine that’s a tougher sell in the larger context of today. This first song didn’t immediately resonate with me like his old stuff, but I’ll happily take whatever new material I can get from Josh.
February 4, 2022 @ 9:54 am
I see Kyle Lehning…..I’m in.
Toes In The Sand
February 4, 2022 @ 11:06 am
I guarantee you these hipsters will glom onto Kenny Chesney’s early 2000s barefoot beach sound next. They collectively have not a single original idea among them.
February 4, 2022 @ 4:11 pm
Jason Boland just said on a podcast like two months ago that virtually everything being made is derivative of something in the past. There’s a century of country music history and many more before that of folk music etc.
It’s not like George Strait was really reinventing the Bob Wills wheel or anything. I’ll take virtually anything gaining traction that’s not some Sam Hunt/FGL trash.
February 4, 2022 @ 11:18 am
It wouldn’t normally be the case as I like traditional sounding stuff better, but I might like the sound of this more than his previous stuff. This song at least, is done right.
King Honky Of Crackershire (Let’s find out.)
February 4, 2022 @ 11:31 am
All I wanna know is: will Fuzzy TwoShirts come out to talk about this?
February 4, 2022 @ 12:31 pm
*Takes a drag off a cigarette*
“Fuzzy Two Shirts? Haven’t heard that name in years.”
I miss Clint, Fuzzy & Lil Dale
February 5, 2022 @ 7:26 am
Truly one of the all time greats. Took county music commentary to a whole new level. I never meant to run em off. Was just givin em a hard time. A true classic all timer.
I’ve read a few theories on Reddit saying Fuzzy might have been Trigg using another handle because someone did the figurin and the likelihood that two country music commenters could be as good as Trigg and Fuzzy is statistically impossible. Aww well hell I don’t know.
February 5, 2022 @ 9:16 am
There is /was a radio entertainer out in California named Phil Hendri. He had this hysterical ” call-in show” where he was host, interviewee and callers all at the same time. It was a hoot
He would do different voices and invent these characters…ive often thought Trig could do the same thing here, and maybe he does!! Hmm🤔
February 5, 2022 @ 9:59 am
He uses more than one handle
February 5, 2022 @ 7:20 pm
No, I don’t. Like I have time for that. I am also not Fuzzy TwoShirts.
February 5, 2022 @ 8:06 pm
Thank you for clearing that up.
Please accept my apology
February 4, 2022 @ 12:33 pm
Been waiting on a follow up since the debut was released. His debut album was among the best albums released in 2018, only problem was the length He released a short album before it became the norm.
February 4, 2022 @ 1:10 pm
Sounds great, like it came off a Brooks and Dunn album in their peak years, and the added benefit of the review got to 10 comments without someone mentioning their entire identity is predicated on who they voted for.
February 4, 2022 @ 5:25 pm
I voted for myself.
February 4, 2022 @ 3:02 pm
Poggers! Straight bangin’
February 4, 2022 @ 5:07 pm
Sounds great. Went ahead and preordered the fried bologna Nashville exclusive.
February 5, 2022 @ 1:59 am
It sounds OK, I have heard alot better. But honestly I really did not care for 90s country, but good for the people who like it.
February 5, 2022 @ 3:25 am
I do like the sound of the first track from this album. I do hope the rest of the album is in the same style. I was a little disappointed. with his last album and hope this one is better. I did not think it that original. Not the most original artist and not a voice that is instantly recognisable. For me, he does not stand out save he is more country than in the charts at present.
February 5, 2022 @ 9:05 am
Joshua Hedley calls himself “Mr. Jukebox.” His bit is to interpret classic country eras in new songs. No, it’s not the most original, but it is admirable (in my opinion) from how well he accomplishes what he sets out to do.
February 5, 2022 @ 9:51 am
Fair comment. I do not disagree with you. He does what he does well.
February 7, 2022 @ 11:13 am
Yes, he does do what he does very well. I applaud him for it and wish him well. It certainly is much better than a lot that is recorded under the guise of country music. I guess I prefer the more traditional country sound though. It’s a matter of preference I’m sure.
February 5, 2022 @ 5:16 am
What a great track, although country radio will definitely not play it as usual, people will have to look for it on Americana and Red Dirt stations, which, truth be told, are FAR better than anything called “country” nowadays anyway.
Hedley’s new slimmed-down look is great too, and I will be waiting with baited breath to buy this new album when it comes out. Good work, Josh, keep it coming!
February 5, 2022 @ 10:03 pm
Guy literally only has 5 subscribers on YouTube music. I’m his 6th subscriber. Thx trig for introducing damn good artist