Josh Kelley - "Georgia Clay"
By: Matt Bjorke
Even as he was writing and recording folk pop hits like “Amazing,” Josh Kelley always had more than a few of his roots tied to the Nashville music scene. He actually encouraged his younger brother Charles Kelley to move to Nashville to become a musician himself and we all know how that turned out with Charles’ remarkable success as 1/3 of Lady Antebellum. After finding love and his own family with TV and movie star Katherine Heigl, Josh made the move back to the south himself and secured another major label deal, this time reinventing himself as a mainstream country star.
Country music has seen its fair share of crossover attempts in the past few years and while some have just released a single or two, here or there, Kelley has followed the Darius Rucker path and made a 100% commitment to the genre with his upcoming album. Working with songwriter Clint Lagerberg as his producer, Josh has co-written an immediate ear-worm of a hit in “Georgia Clay,” a tune which Lagerberg and Charles Kelley share co-writing credits on. Possessing a voice that has a rich tonal quality to it, Kelley certainly has a voice that fits well within mainstream country music.
The song hits upon a theme that is completely universal: reminiscing about the past. The song uses an old, tarp-covered truck as the ‘time machine’ to talk about the ‘good old days’ of recklessness and crazy wild days of youth. The production from Lagerberg is wholly mainstream modern country with a few slices of Kelley’s acoustic rock roots thrown in (the box percussion guiding the tune in the intro and outro).
Some people will try to see this song for more than it is, which is a good-sounding mainstream country tune, and try to say Kelley’s just another in a long line of ‘pop’ vocalists masquerading in country because pop wouldn’t have them anymore. Like Rucker, this is hardly the case as Hot AC and Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 Pop or AAA radio formats were all receptive and playing Kelley’s songs up to his decision to move to mainstream country. Josh Kelley may have started out as an artist pegged by Hollywood Records to follow the John Mayer mold to pop/rock stardom but instead he’s returned home to the south with “Georgia Clay.” It’s an immediate, universal earworm that fans will love to hear on the radio throughout the rest of 2010’s summer and fall seasons.