Josh Kelley will release his debut country album, Georgia Clay, on March 22.
The industry excitement surrounding the project led to Josh’s inclusion in a recent Tennessean feature on “11 Artist to Watch in 2011.”
Georgia Clay is Josh’s most autobiographical album to date and powerfully describes the most important moments of his life, including his marriage to actress Katherine Heigl, their adoption of daughter Naleigh and the family’s move to Utah.
“This record is a time capsule,” says Josh, who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. “It’s by far the best thing I’ve written and I’ve never been more proud. I’m proud to be in a genre where people pay attention to meaningful lyrics and truly appreciate storytelling. I feel like I’ve become more of a man with the writing of this record.”
“Georgia Clay,” the project’s first hit and title track, recalls the carefree summers of Josh’s youth. He wrote the song with his brother, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, while they were at Charles’ house with Josh’s producer, Clint Lagerberg. They began reminiscing about high school, remembering fondly the times when they would hook up jet skis behind their father’s 1977 Chevy Silverado and go to the lake.
“I asked Charles whatever happened to that old truck Dad used to let us drive,” he says. “He said it was in a junkyard somewhere. I said, ‘Man, if there’s still some Georgia clay underneath it, if that Georgia clay could speak, what would it say?’ It would have seen our childhood and seen Charles and I experiencing our first everythings.
“This song takes me back to Georgia every time I sing it. No matter where I go in this world, I will never wash away my Southern roots, just like that ‘Georgia Clay’ on my dad’s old truck.”
Another album standout is “Gone Like That,” which depicts a sensitive man who keeps running into someone who could be the woman of his dreams. “This was the song that actually started my journey into country music,” he says. “I had written and presented it to my music publisher to pitch to other artists, but they liked my demo and encouraged me to cut it. It was the first song I wrote that gave me the confidence to pursue a career as a country singer.”
“Raining Whiskey” is destined to become a favorite at honkytonks across the country. Quoting the song’s lyrics, he says, “It’s hard staying dry when it’s raining whiskey. That’s my favorite forecast!”
“Naleigh Moon” poignantly captures the intense connection he has with his daughter. “We’d only had Naleigh for a couple of weeks when I wrote this and I think it’s the best song I’ve ever written,” he says. “The way the chords and the melody intertwine, it really tugs on your heartstrings. I mean every word of it each time I sing ‘Naleigh Moon.’”
He unveils a beautiful falsetto in “Baby Blue Eyes,” which he co-wrote with Lee Brice. “Let’s just say I’ve caught a lot of crap for this one because my wife has brown eyes,” he says. “What can I say? It’s like I tell my wife, I wrote that one with Lee, and maybe his girl has blue eyes. While the eye color has changed for artistic reasons, the feeling and emotion is true.”
While the man in “Ain’t Letting Go” isn’t desperate, he remains acutely aware of the mistakes he’s made. “He’s having a hard time trying to let her go, so he wants to give her a hard time as well,” says Josh, who co-wrote the song with his brother, Charles, and Patrick Davis. “The whole song is basically a phone conversation that he’s having with her answering machine. He’s going, ‘I want you back. I ain’t letting you go.’”
He singlehandedly wrote “A Real Good Try,” which is about never giving up. “’A Real Good Try’ is about letting my family and friends and my wife know, ‘Bear with me. I have a goal in mind here. It’s going to take a lot of work.’”
Indeed, Josh has been working hard lately, whether it’s touring with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church, singing at the Grand Ole Opry or performing his own shows.
“Everybody that knows me has said it’s by far the best album I’ve ever made,” says Josh, who co-produced the project with Lagerberg. “Everything I’ve learned over the last seven years has led up to this point.”
For all things Josh Kelley, visit his official website www.JoshKelley.com.