“Some of my drinking buddies back home asked me if I was worried about doing this. This “Day in the Life” thing is like Almost Famous to them. “What if I say something I regret?” I don’t know. The way I see it - I’m twenty-eight years old. I’m a musician. I’ve been awake for almost forty-eight hours. What could I possibly say that would really get me in trouble? I’m an open book.”
To call Joshua Ray Walker wizened may be a little overzealous, but he is in fact true to his word. Not only in prefacing more or less two days of being tailed amidst an extended stay in Nashville, but in his writing as well.
It’s unfair to outwardly ascribe something as lofty as Walker being a “generational” level of talent, but Walker is distinct in his talent, nonetheless. Generational or not. If you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time reading Now/It’s, then you’re familiar with Walker from our coverage of Americanafest 2018. Walker was undoubtedly the best thing we saw all that week, and he wasn’t even an official showcasing artist.
Walker is a true Texas troubadour - road weary, deferential, but resolute, one way or another. His written perspectives recall visions of Richard Ford or John Cheever. Equal parts fatalistic, satirically subtle, and humanist in observation.
Walker’s writing is poignant and (pleasantly) disturbing on paper, but when presented in a musical lens - be it recorded or in a live setting - he can level a room. I mean full blown devastate any crowd, in the best way. At times, the most immediate comparison I envision for Johsua Ray Walker is a raw version of Roy Orbison, if Orbison spent his free time reading Lucia Berlin.
Take Walker’s debut Wish You Were Here. By no means would I call it’s contents “unsavory” in the way that some Lucia Berlin stories can become, but there’s an inherent humanistic struggle. Be it falling in love with a “lot lizard” as a long-haul trucker, relishing what little time the two have together, sordid or not, or revitalizing a song written nearly ten years ago in “Fondly,” Walker writes what he knows best, observationally or experientially. He’s sharpened his eye for the human experience through the lens of the mundane, something often imitated but rarely replicated (or in Walker’s case, substantiated) by many an Americana and country artist.
Then again, genre confinement seems to be of little interest (or necessity) to Walker. The beauty of his purview is simply sharing what he knows and what he extrapolates from the everyday. Seeing something beautiful in the mundane and presenting it in a manner of which all walks can empathize.
Joshua Ray Walker may not be the most voluble voice of his contemporaries, but he is one of the most connective, be it through the scope of the individual or the whole of the human experience. Things only get better with time, and the more life Joshua Ray Walker has to experience, the better we all are for it, thanks to him.
Now/It’s spent time with Joshua Ray Walker over the span of 48 hours in Nashville, as Walker promoted his debut album, ‘Wish You Were Here.’
8:24 PM; Wish You Were Here Nashville Release Show
The second stop in a mini-release show tour for Walker. The first, Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas on release day, Nashville (obviously), and Little Rock to close.
9:47 PM; Making the Rounds
Sharing a bill with his fellow State Fair Records cohorts (and Wish You Were Here producer John) Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner, Walker commiserates with friends on the next best move for the evening. Tonight it’s Cubans at Duke’s.
11:53 AM; ACME Radio Spot
Walker spends the next two hours swapping stories of Dallas, Guy Clark, couch surfing, “Volvere, Volvere” and more on Vinyl Lunch with host Tim Hibbs.
2:00 PM; Mas Tacos
A brief respite from the general Wish Your Were Here press push in Nashville. “A little taste of home” according to long time Walker collaborator Nathan Mongol Wells.