Joshua Ray Walker‘s voice positively soars on “Voices,” the opening monitor of his new album, Glad You Made It. About three minutes into the regular, pedal steel-filled tune, Walker lets out a virtually 15-second-long excessive be aware that stretches to the highest edges of his vary.

For those who’re doing actually the rest when you’re listening, it is liable to make you cease, rewind and listen to the entire thing with no distractions.

“I’ve undoubtedly change into extra assured as a singer, and I used to be prepared to type of push the boundaries of what I may do on this document, which signifies that I’ve to copy that reside now,” Walker tells The Boot with a chuckle. “I tried to push my voice and my writing and even my enjoying … I assume the worry on the primary document was, like, I knew I may do it, however as soon as it is recorded that manner, folks need to hear it that manner. And, like, nailing it each evening reside, I had like this worry, I assume.

“So I type of pushed it a bit extra on this document,” he provides, “as a result of I’ve change into extra assured as a performer over the past yr and a half.”

It is a bit laborious to imagine that Walker ever lacked in that division. The Dallas, Texas, native, had a substantial buzz round him as he launched his debut full-length album, 2019’s Want You Have been Right here. The document lived as much as its hype, incomes essential approval for Walker’s beautiful potential to make listeners suppose, snicker and cry — typically all three directly.

“I had 10 years to place Want You Have been Right here out … and that was type of all my formative writing time … I type of obtained to cherry decide a few of my favourite songs,” Walker factors out, explaining that, yeah, he felt some strain to maintain that momentum going. “The primary document exceeded all my expectations — like, I used to be so joyful to only have a document out … And that went so rapidly that now, with the second document, it is type of like, Okay, now what? How do I high that? Or do I have to high that?

He did not should, Walker determined. “I simply have to make the document I need to make and make it as finest as I can,” he instructed himself, “after which hopefully folks will prefer it and take heed to it.”

For those who ask Walker, Glad You Made It is a extra well-rounded album. “My entire first document was a bunch of unhappy singer-songwriter songs,” he says matter-of-factly. “Filling 90 minutes as a headliner with all unhappy songs simply would not actually work in Texas.”

A self-inflicted directive to lean into the uptempo was one other stretch for Walker: “I obtained to push the boundaries of what I used to be comfy with writing …,” he displays, “and it simply turned out to be a extra rounded document: extra upbeat and unhappy, the manufacturing had extra variance in it … and I feel my writing’s getting higher.”

“Upbeat,” although, would not equal “not unhappy.” “True Love” is as pessimistic — or, maybe, life like — as they arrive (“Love’s simply one thing folks say / Will not develop previous collectively, holdin’ palms when your hairs are grey / Let’s simply name a spade a spade / Real love was meant to fade,” goes the refrain). The fuzzy, rocked-up album-closer, “D.B. Cooper,” in the meantime, ponders the totally unglamorous scenario its titular hijacker possible discovered himself in after he jumped out of that Northwest Orient Airways airplane in 1971.

“It is a kind of conspiracy theories that floats across the web, and I discover these attention-grabbing. I’ve spent in all probability too many hours taking a look at Bigfoot footage; I watch Historical Aliens,” Walker admits with amusing. Naturally, he could not assist however surprise what occurred to Cooper, who made off with $200,000 and has by no means been discovered.

“I imply, who would not need to [pull off a] heist, you recognize?” says Walker, who began the tune a decade in the past with a childhood buddy, Will Martin. “[As a teenager], I used to be like, ‘Superior: Hijack a airplane, leap out of it with cash … after which sneak away to Mexico and reside eternally on a seaside,’ you recognize? Now I see that that is traumatizing to flight attendants, and there is all these negatives that come together with it.”

Grownup Walker ties the tune to perseverance by way of laborious instances. The lyrics, he factors out, do not concentrate on the hijacking itself, and so they actually do not romanticize how issues possible performed out for Cooper.

“In my thoughts, he jumped out of the airplane in a thunderstorm and misplaced all of his provides, and half the cash went down the river, and he broke his leg … That is type of the visible I had: He is caught in a tree, hanging from his parachute … You realize, he tried to do that grand scheme and it went poorly. And now he is simply attempting to outlive,” Walker continues. “I in all probability may have written, like, an eight-minute “Poncho and Lefty”-style ballad about it.”

“I need it to really feel like they’re listening to the document with buddies.”

Working with producer John Pedigo, Walker recorded Glad You Made It in each Dallas and Nashville, holding his door in Music Metropolis open to buddies and fellow musicians. He needed to domesticate a “celebration environment … ‘trigger my lyrics are fairly downtrodden,” so Walker and Pedigo turned the downstairs of a rental home right into a makeshift studio, loaded up the fridge and invited their buddies over.

“[I] did not actually inform them what [we were recording]; they did not know what songs they had been enjoying on or something …,” Walker recounts, “after which we might simply present them the tune and be like, ‘Okay, go,'” as different buddies watched from the hallway, attempting to remain quiet.

“You may really hear a number of the bleed from folks not being quiet sufficient: You may hear conversations, you recognize, whooping and hollering within the again,” he factors out. “I need it to really feel like [you’re] listening to the document with buddies.”

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