Over the course of three albums, Joshua Ray Walker has built and populated a honky tonk plane of battered barflies, patinated angels, and degenerate heroes at the dark end of the street. It’s a realm empty of judgment but rich in battered tales of lust, tough luck, and midnight pain with Walker, the harbinger of his creations’ fates, wielding his emotional savvy like a superpowered fist, rarely jabbing in favor of eye-closing straights and jaw-shattering hooks that rock from head to heel. Here are five dusters to the heart that put us away for the ten-count every time.
Joshua Ray Walker returns to Macon and Grant’s Lounge on Friday, November 4th!
“Canyon” kicks off Walker’s stellar full-length debut Wish You Were Hear, introducing the big man from Dallas as one the most visceral songwriters working today and catching our collective breaths when he sings, “I’m afraid of flyin’ /Afraid of fallin’ truth be told / I don’t get close to edges / I’m afraid that I’ll let go.” LISTEN
The tale of a forlorn lover discovering the forgotten diary of an ex (Van Darien on the duet) after rolling out of bed into a bruised heap on the floor is pure honky tonk tears turned diamonds. “I laid in bed for an hour today tryin’ to die of natural causes in case the Lord forgot to take me in my sleep” is one of the stiffest uppercuts in Walker’s arsenal. LISTEN
For those wondering where JRW was headed on his second effort Glad You Made It, album opener “Voices” hauls ass straight for the deepest darkest hole, boot nailed to the floorboard with the rest of us duct-taped about the arms & wrists, ankles & knees in the back o’ the truck. LISTEN
Don’t let the pace or the horns fool ya’– this one’s hardcore. Walker’s subject objects violently to sobriety, killing whatever willpower remains in honor of booze, narcotics, gambling, and sex, crushing the truth and your heart like an oxy with, “It’s not a struggle if you don’t fight/ I just wanna have a good night / I think I’m gonna use again, and it’s gonna be just fine.” LISTEN
5. “Flash Paper”
Walker’s father passed away after a protracted battle with lung cancer, leaving his son a box of memories to hopefully answer questions and ease the loss. Revealing the emotional contents of their relationship, Joshua sings, “In a cigar box with notes and letters and little things you’d usually pay no mind / Simple words mean more than all the syllables combined / Like I love you / And I’ll miss you too.” Grown men weep. LISTEN