Josh Kelley - Backwoods
By: Matt Bjorke
In the early pat of this decade Josh Kelley was signed to a record deal with Hollywood Records as the singer/songwriter rebirth happened thanks to artists like John Mayer. While Kelley’s first single “Amazing” did remarkably well on the charts, his career didn’t exactly sizzle like Mayer and Jason Mraz’s careers did. That being said, Kelley carved out a remarkably steady troubadour like career. He has made a living doing what he loves and along the way found himself in the arms of Kathryn Heigl, whom he married in 2007. After self-releasing “Special Company” earlier this year, Kelley has quickly put out “Backwoods,” a short 10 song collection of acoustic songs.
The record starts off with “2 Cups of Coffee” a song from “Special Company.” With the mandolin and acoustic guitar, the song has a distinct country folk vibe that actually reminds me of the great Ron Sexsmith. The lyric is romantically sweet and sets up the hit “Amazing.” Here the percussion given off by the upright bass is appreciative while the harmonica is given a bluesy sound as Kelly sings the lyrics in his soulful voice. “Home To Me” is a strong love song from Kelley’s debut “For The Ride Home” and, with the shiny pop production removed, Kelley shows off a strong romantic lyric.
With a soaring voice that reaches higher on the register than younger brother Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum does, Josh tackles “A Real Good Try.” It’s a passionate song about giving your best on everything you do. “1, 2 Forget About 3” is a cute harmonica-laced love song with whimsical lyrics and if it were on a traditional rock/pop album it’d be quite cheesy but in this setting the song makes for a nice departure. Kelley’s gift for melody is revealed on “Beautiful Goodbye,” a beatles-like melancholic ballad.
While “Backwoods” isn’t technically a country album, it’s still a beautiful singer/songwriter record that fans of good roots music should be able to appreciate. It’s the kind of record that works perfectly with a pair of headphones and a nice walk.