Josh Hedley: The Green Eyes EP
After a few weeks of showing up as Randy Jackson’s “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” (yeah, I have no idea either), Josh Hedley’s long awaited Green Eyes EP is now officially available for download on both iTunes and Amazon.com.
For most of you, Josh may look familiar. By night he’s Justin Townes Earle’s right hand man, providing fiddle and backing vocals to Earle’s live show. By day however, Hedley is an impressive solo artist in his own right. When he’s not on tour with Earle, he can often be seen gracing the stages of fooBAR, the Full Moon Saloon and various other venues in and around Nashville. He’s been to Europe and back opening for songstress Eileen Rose, and has also become an in demand studio musician, laying down his distinctive fiddle styling’s for a number of projects including, most recently, those of Jack White. Therefore, when I heard a rumor late last year that his EP Green Eyes would soon be available to the general public, I chalked it up as my first eagerly awaited album of 2011.
Clocking in at just over twenty-five minutes, what the EP lacks in length it more than makes up for in raw talent. Like a modern day Nebraska, much of the album’s strength comes from the combination of Hedley’s storytelling and beautifully sparse acoustic guitar work. The album ranges from stripped down, haunting searches for redemption (“Dandelion” and “Apology”) to sweetly sentimental ballads (“Mary Jane”). Adding to this is Hedley’s willingness to showcase the heart that’s hiding out on his tattooed sleeves. A cast of familiar country song characters such as the ill-fated Johnny and Janie of “American Love Story” and the green eyed heartbreaker of the album’s title track are given new life with his honest portrayals of life and love. A clear standout on the album is in fact the aforementioned “Green Eyes.” Hedley artfully avoids churning out the typical “tear-in-my-beer-cuz-my-baby-left-me” country song, and instead delivers an ode to the subtle, sensory experiences of a breakup: empty whiskey bottles, broken hair ties, and lingering fragrances. Also making an appearance on the album is his collaboration with Eileen Rose on the Stones classic “Dead Flowers.” (The live YouTube version of which was my first exposure to Mr. Hedley and has fast become one of my favorite versions of the oft- covered tune.)
Josh Hedley possesses a voice that is rare these days: a classic twang that is both effortless and straight from the gut, reminiscent of influences far beyond his twenty six years. Echoes of Townes Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen, and even Earle Sr. permeate Green Eyes and yet never once bog it down into the realm of rehash status. Instead, Hedley showcases a voice and style all his own while proving, quite simply, that he knows the way country is supposed to be played. In a day and age when country music is seemingly always followed by any number of extra qualifiers (alt-country, country with a punk edge, indie-folk infused-funk inspired-reggae-California-country) Josh Hedley still has the balls to play country the way it ought to be played and I for one, am very grateful.
Link to Amazon’s MP3 download of Green Eyes: http://www.amazon.com/Green-Eyes-EP/dp/B004IJHKSY
Josh’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joshua-Hedley/137624375668?ref=ts