[Published in the Spectrum section of The Sydney Morning Herald, April 28]
COUNTRY/AMERICANA Joshua Hedley
Mr. Jukebox (Third Man Records / ADA)
In the grand tradition of old-timey country crooning comes Joshua Hedley’s debut record, an album that aches with sorrow, with longing, with memories of times gone spent crying into beers over lost love and wasted opportunity. The opening notes of Counting All My Tears, pedal steel and acoustic guitar, are enough to convince that this is the real deal, a feeling cemented without doubt once Hedley’s deep and dark voice swells over the top.
And yet, despite the emotional desolation, this collection of ten songs twinkles with a certain delight – the kitsch of the title track; the unabashed embracing of the sonic naivety that those like Marty Robbins exhibited from time to time; Hedley’s gentle self-depreciation.
Where perhaps the album stumbles just a bit, is in songs like Let’s Take A Vacation which are too croony, not country enough, more pastiche than powerful. These very few moments aside however, Mr. Jukebox is a record of inherent beauty, perhaps the finest example of what country music used to be, and what it should still be, today. Joshua Hedley is, without doubt or over-exaggeration, the absolute real deal, this record a fine culmination of his years of hard work. Samuel J. Fell