Josh Kelley - 'New Lane Road'

April 22 will mark the release of American singer-songwriter Josh Kelley's eighth studio album New Lane Road - his first album in five years and his first release with Sugar Hill Records. Quite possibly the strongest album released so far this year, New Lane Road is definitely a potential album of the year. Josh's vocal is outstanding throughout, the songs themselves are brilliant and both the musicians and song-writers involved are clearly very talented.

Album opener It's Your Move is the lead single and is actually the first track of Josh's I've heard. I was drawn in as soon as I first heard it and knew that I needed to hear the rest of the record. The waltz timing and reoccurring piano hook seems to suit the overall track well and Josh's gritty vocal delivers an emotive performance throughout the autobiographical track that is sure to draw listeners in, a brilliant introduction!

Whilst it is incredibly hard to pick a favourite track from the selection here, I keep coming back to both Take It On Back and Cowboy Love Song. With a bluesy overall feel, Take It On Back has a steady snare drum beat throughout as well as using piano and guitar hooks. The track as a whole is without a doubt very compelling, Josh sounds completely comfortable and his distinctive tone works really well alongside the blues feel of the production and melody. I'm sure a lot of people will find themselves listening to it again and again (certainly I have!), Take It On Back seems to be a great vocal fit for Josh and has worked out really well as an overall track.

Cowboy Love Song is one of the softest songs instrumentally and is a real goose-bump moment. It is an incredibly emotional track and has some of the most touching lyrics from the whole album, lines like "where lonely ends, we begin" and "now I'm in debt to all that brought me right here with you" are delivered with a gorgeous vocal from Josh that just oozes emotion. At just over two and a half minutes in the track strips back to just Josh's vocal and a soft guitar and piano part which serves to further cement the heartfelt feeling behind Cowboy Love Song. After it finishes with a soft, almost whispered "you're my angel" you are just left thinking 'wow'.

Cowboy Love Song is bookended by two surprising (and very impressive!) tracks, Anywhere You Wanna Go and I'll Be Standin' Tall. I'll Be Standin' Tall is a track reminiscent of something you would expect to hear from bands such as Mumford and Sons or The Lumineers but also manages to fit in very well alongside the rest of this album. It's infectious rhythm makes you want to tap your feet along to the pacey production line and the various other interweaving instrumental lines build the track up without it feeling messy. The catchy folk-rock rhythm sits alongside lyrics like "I don't suffer fools, not like you" and "I'll be standin' tall, standin' right where I belong", both of which combine with the gutsy attitude in Josh's vocal delivery to create an incredibly compelling track.

With another infectious beat but a completely different feel, Anywhere You Wanna Go has a bossa nova, Latin American feel behind it that sounds like it was a lot of fun to produce. Instantly high energy, Josh's voice smoothly moves into the style that shows another side to him. The breakdown just over halfway through the track and subsequently introduced crowd noises and brisk hand claps really helps with the party feel, I imagine it is a great number to hear live.

Track listing...
1) It's Your Move - Josh Kelley, Rachel Thibodeau, Ben Glover
2) The Rock Who Found A Rollin' Stone - Josh Kelley
3) Call It What It Is - Josh Kelley, Charles Kelley, Alan Chang
4) Take It On Back - Josh Kelley, Charles Kelley, Tommy King
5) The Best Of Me - Josh Kelley, Rachel Thibodeau, Kyle Jacobs
6) New Lane Road - Josh Kelley
7) One Foot In The Grave - Josh Kelley, Jesse Valenzuela, Danny Wilde
8) Anywhere You Wanna Go - Josh Kelley
9) Cowboy Love Song - Josh Kelley, Clint Lagerberg
10) I'll Be Standin' Tall - Josh Kelley
11) Life's Too Short - Josh Kelley, Clint Lagerberg, Sean McConnell
12) Only God Can Stop Her Now - Josh Kelley, Rachel Thibodeau, Jason Sever

I am, truthfully, blown away by how outstanding this album is. Josh is clearly an incredibly talented singer and song-writer and the five years since his last release are certainly worth the wait. I would urge everybody to buy this album once it is released on April 22nd, it's definitely one that deserves to be part of anybody's record collection. Huge congratulations to Josh and everybody else involved! 

US readers can see Josh live at any of Charles Kelley's tour dates and at a scattering of solo shows, more details can be found on Josh's website here. I really hope Josh makes his way over to the UK sooner rather than later!