Reinvigorating Country With Joshua Ray Walker

For someone who is admittedly not a fan of reading books, Joshua Ray Walker conveys emotion and portrays characters so well that his songwriting presents what at first would seem like a kind of striking incongruity. Add to that the fact that he did not begin writing lyrics until he was already a number of years into his career, and the hint of inconsistency with habit and result grows louder. It is answered, however, in the fact that Walker is a keen observer of everyone in his orbit, and is gifted with an incredibly rare ability to create striking scenes with characters whom you might want to alternately embrace or avoid at all cost, but will surely not forget. And that is to say nothing of the expansive and innovative instrumentation, arrangement and good old fashioned hooks that he employs at every turn. Plus, his voice ranges from clear as crystal to nearly a snarl, always garnished with a delicious Texas twang. Simply put, Joshua Ray Walker is setting the bar for what country music can and should be: a home for immediately relatable songs packed with the full range of human emotions that take from the template set down by its pantheon of iconic artists, and make it new again with every riff and turn of phrase.

Joshua Ray Walker on guitar and Billy Law on bass during their live session on WNCW 02-21-22 (photo: Brenda Craig)

In this episode, Joshua Ray Walker talks about how his family influenced his career and his songs, how he approaches writing lyrics, the rich music scene of his East Dallas home (with an aside about this study which gave it a surprisingly very poor rating), and a lot more. Woven throughout is music from his live session on public radio WNCW where he played several songs from his third solo album See You Next Time. We also bring in a member of Joshua’s other longstanding project Ottoman Turks with a conversation with their bassist and vocalist Billy Law, who has an impressive new solo album of his own titled Alone Somewhere.

Songs heard in this episode:

“Sexy After Dark” by Joshua Ray Walker, live on WNCW

“Cowboy” by Joshua Ray Walker, live on WNCW, excerpt

“Flash Paper” by Joshua Ray Walker, from See You Next Time, excerpt

“Vaquero” by Ottoman Turks, from Ottoman Turks II, excerpt

“Dallas Lights” by Joshua Ray Walker, from See You Next Time, excerpt

“Three Strikes” by Joshua Ray Walker, live on WNCW

Thanks for dropping in on us here at Southern Songs and Stories, and I hope you might tell someone you know about the series, whether that is in person or on social media. Please follow us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or any podcast platform you prefer. After that, it helps a lot when you give us a good rating and a review. Top ratings, and reviews especially, will make Southern Songs and Stories and the artists it profiles more likely to be found by more people just like you. 

Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to WNCW audio engineer Sean Rubin for recording our session with Joshua and his band, and to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on WNCW, and to Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it. – Joe Kendrick