Josh Kelley Explores New Territory With New Lane Road

I’ve loved Josh Kelley for years.

Back in college, my roommate and I waited impatiently for the “Only You” singer to bring a tour through Atlanta. And when he finally did, we saved up, bought tickets and rocked out front and center.

Yep, my love and loyalty runs deep. So when I received his latest album New Lane Road, I was eager to dive into his first release in five years. I wanted to catch back up and pick up where his story left off.

But with this new music, it was as if I were meeting Kelley for the first time all over again with the most wonderful introduction.

“This is my new beginning,” Kelley recently told me during a chat at CMT’s offices in Nashville. “Everything that I’ve done up until this moment was almost like boot camp to get here. Lots of learning, lots of mistakes. Thank God, I’ve learned from them and tried to apply that new knowledge to this.”

So what separates this particular project from all the great work Kelley has done before? Experience and a new perspective that brought him back home.

“One of the main things was write about what you know,” he said. “It’s kind of like investors. The most successful investors invest in what they know and, for me, that’s this project. I invested in my family lyrically. I said, ‘You know what? This is what I know. I know my babies, I know this land, I know my wife, and I know about being a good husband and being honest. So this whole album was born out of where we live in Utah and what we do and how we live.”

Plus it’s been a more mature experience for him.

“It’s very grown up,” he says with a hearty laugh of his new venture with Sugar Hill Records. “It’s the most grown up I’ve ever been.”

And nothing feels as good as doing something on your own terms.

Kelley told me he took three years to make this record after taking a year off to score a movie, an experience that he says brought him back to this album with a fresh perspective. Even though it did get lonely sometimes recording the new music in his “super-vibey” home studio in Utah (he admitted to talking and giggling to himself at times), recording at home does have great perks, like the perk of having his biggest fans and supporters close by to weigh in on his creative choices.

“My family is very honest with me,” he admitted. “They’ll let me know when a new song is terrible. They’re just like, ‘Daddy, that song is terrible. I don’t like that one.’ There’s no, ‘Umm, that’s got some potential … ’ but they’ll let me know when it’s great. I know they’re very honest, especially Katie. When she feels it you can just look at her face and know that she is in it.”

“Katie” would be Katherine Heigl, Kelley’s Emmy-award winning actress wife, whose unwavering love and support of her husband is perfectly captured in one of the album’s standout tracks, “The Rock Who Found a Rolling Stone.”

“I wrote it for Katie because if not for her, I’d basically live in the studio, have a beard down to my ankles and probably would just be a total derelict because I am just obsessed with making music to the point where it’s really all I want to do,” he said. “She’s the one who basically opened the curtains in my life and gave me family and was like, ‘Hey man, there’s beautiful things also outside.’ That song is for her.”

Heigl also directed and appears in the video for his latest single, “It’s Your Move.”

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