I’ve been waiting so long for this album from Joshua Hedley, that I was afraid I may have psyched myself up too much to enjoy it. When you go into an album with high hopes it is so easy to be disappointed; I knew Josh had the voice, and I knew he had the right folks backing him to allow creativity to flow, but you always wonder how it’s all going to jive when done… I’m happy to say that ‘Mr. Jukebox’ absolutely blew me away, even with such high expectations. This is blue ribbon country in 2018, as perfect now as it would have been 50 years ago.
Because this album is so good, you’re going to read a lot of reviews from people much more in-tune with music theory, with much larger audiences, and with a better grasp on the English language. All that said I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t tell you how great I think this album is, and how Mr. Hedley has done something that few can claim; he has stuck to the principles of the music he loves. Refraining from reinventing the wheel, he has put together an album that you’d swear you just swiped from your grandfather’s record collection.
From the opening track to the symbolic ender, this album is not just book-ended with vintage sound, but chock full of it. If you like the classics, you’re going to love everything about this album; there is no doubt this is the best classic country style album I’ve heard in 2018. What’s truly impressive here is how nothing on the album feels like it’s trying too hard; it feels real and honest, like this is the music he was built to make. On first listen I was reminded of similar feelings I had last year while listing to ‘This Highway’ by Zephaniah Ohora for the first time; an artist time-stamping an original album to a date well before his own birth.
I first heard Joshua’s voice on the 2016 Struggle Jennings tune “Like Father, Like Son”, Joshua took what could have been a somewhat cliché rap song and turned it into something amazing with his velvet vocals. Before the song ended, I was googling his name, finding myself pretty disappointed at the lack of music available online from him at the time.
Since finding Joshua I have followed his musical journey, and was ecstatic when I saw that he signed with Third Man Records. I knew Jack White and crew would make sure Joshua had what he needed to make the music he wanted, without the BS that typically comes along with record labels; I’ve seen them do great things for other artists I adore, and this record is no different.
“Counting All My Tears” sets the tone for the whole thing and lets you know that you are getting exactly what you hoped for with this album.
“Weird Thought Thinker” is one of the first songs I found of Joshua online, I am glad to see it included on the album.
“Let’s Take a Vacation” is a beautiful last-ditch love song in the style of “If We’re Not Back In Love By Monday”.
“When You Wish Upon A Star” is a great way to end the album; it's beautiful, symbolic, and a homage to his father.
‘Mr. Jukebox’ drops tomorrow, 4/20/18. It is available wherever you buy digital music and physical copies can be found on Joshua’s website.