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Pop - Released April 22, 2016 | Concord Sugar Hill

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After scoring with the John Mayer-esque pop of "Amazing" and the upbeat country of "Georgia Clay," Josh Kelley has decided it's time he bared his soul to us all. For his eighth album (and first for Sugar Hill), 2016's New Lane Road, Kelley has taken a detour into singer/songwriter territory. The album delivers a dozen personal songs about love and family with a feel that's half-Nashville and half-Laurel Canyon. Kelley has said that he was listening to a lot of vintage Eagles and Jackson Browne material while recording the album, and it's not hard to hear the influences. Kelley even soaks up traces of Browne's vocal inflections on tracks like "Call It What It Is" and "I'll Be Standing Tall." If this music favors Kelley's country side, the mood is laid-back and contemplative. Most of the time, Kelley has relationships on his mind. "It's Your Move" and "Call It What It Is" don't make such things sound easy, but "The Best of Me" and "Cowboy Love Song" suggest it's all worthwhile. "Take It on Back" shows the man loves soul music, and he cuts a pretty convincing groove with the goofball funk of "Anywhere You Wanna Go." Many of the songs on New Lane Road cover familiar lyrical tropes, but Kelley brings a warmth and sincerity to this music that's honest and effective. And Kelley certainly sounds more comfortable singing about the glories of married life than he did trying to fit into the boundaries of mainstream country. New Lane Road is a few steps short of a triumph for Josh Kelley. But it's strong and well-crafted enough to sound like he's found a direction that works for him, and this ranks with the singer and songwriter's best work. ~ Mark Deming
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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Hollywood Records Inc.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Hollywood Records Inc.

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Country - Released November 22, 2019 | Josh Kelley

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Hollywood Records Inc.

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Country - Released January 1, 2010 | MCA Nashville

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Hollywood Records

Josh Kelley won't be able to outrun the John Mayer comparisons. For the Ride Home, the young Mississippian's easygoing Hollywood debut, was helmed by John Alagia, the guy behind Mayer's Room for Squares and the Dave Matthews Band's Crash, among others. Kelley sports a similar flair for phrasing and first-person confession, too, especially on "Angeles" and "Travelin'." Ride Home also tends slightly toward the bland -- "I Saw You" is like a highway exit with 14 enticing yet utterly homogenous fast-food offerings. Thankfully, dollops of Kelley's homespun charm keep things interesting. Opener and lead single "Amazing" is an upbeat, dizzy number warmed by Kelley's husky expressive vocals and an organ solo. The song's similarity to Jason Mraz' "Remedy (I Won't Worry)" isn't surprising -- Alagia produced that one, too. But that's all right. For the Ride Home ends up succeeding for some of the same reasons Mraz and Mayer did -- like them, Kelley has a disheveled friendliness that's hard to resist. He's a top-shelf, road-trip conversationalist, looks great in a wrinkled oxford, and settles comfortably somewhere between sensitive and upbeat. His five o'clock shadow never gets to ten, and he's looking at you with amusement over the lip of his coffee mug. While lighthearted stuff like "Perfect 10" and the single certainly please, it's actually the quieter material that's most promising here. "Amen" is an elegiac number that suggests, well, Seal, while the arrangement for emotional standout "Home to Me" is wisely pared down to Kelley's faintly cracking vocal, an acoustic guitar, and a pretty wash of atmospherics. Taken with the rootsy, winking "Faces" ("The forecast calls for rain to take away the day/I guess we'll just have to stay inside the room...."), the track illustrates Kelley's deft, broken-in touch, and proves he's much more than just another square. ~ Johnny Loftus
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Pop - Released April 8, 2016 | Concord Sugar Hill

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Pop - Released March 18, 2016 | Concord Sugar Hill

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Pop - Released April 22, 2016 | Concord Sugar Hill