One of the bands I have been wanting to feature for a while is the Josh Abbott Band. With multiple hit songs having multi-million streams, they are hugely popular in their home state of Texas and across the globe. You may be familiar with the perennial favorites, “Settle Me Down” and “She’s Like Texas.”
The latest album from Josh Abbott Band, Somewhere Down The Road was born from the kind of musical passion that only gets stronger as time goes by. After 15 years of building a wildly devoted following in their home state and well beyond, the Texas-bred now eight-piece approached their seventh studio LP with a renewed dedication to trusting their instincts and speaking an unvarnished truth about life, love, and human nature.
Abbott solo wrote four of the tracks and cowrote another four. And while hooky three-minute songs are often a sure bet on the radio, he has decided that it is more important that his music be from the heart, to mean something.
Abbott explained his evolution, “I think it's pretty important that we find some balance on each record because we can't just have an entire set full of ballads and heartfelt deep songs. But in the same sense, we can't just have a shallow record or live show full of energetic, fast-paced beer-drinking songs. There has to be some sort of yin-yang to it.”
The song, “Barstool Boys” caters to the honky tonk set. With the wailing harmonica in the intro, you know you are in for a good time. But it is tempered with “She’ll Always Be”, a poetic serenade to Abbott’s eternally free-spirited six-year-old daughter.
The song “Astronaut” is a tribute to the hardworking man. “Closer to You” is a love song for Abbott’s wife. And “Brutus, Judas and You” is a rowdy, fun song about a regrettable relationship that reminds you why you love the Josh Abbott Band so much.
Now that he has been at it for a while, Abbott is not against mainstream country, but he treats his music with a different approach and a little less production, giving it a more authentic live sound.
The most interesting thing I learned was that in 2022 the Josh Abbott Band recorded 11 or 12 songs and didn’t love them, so they scrapped the album.
“We were just trying to re-record another album of 10 or 12 really catchy three-minute songs. And I just was like, I don't think that's where I'm at in my life anymore. I really want to make a deeper record. We took the songs we loved, and it ended up being only three or four of them,” he confirmed.
One of his favorite songs from the record is “Guilt of a Man.” Written about his wife and her experience with postpartum depression, the topic is not one you would expect a song to be about.
He states she still isn’t completely happy that he put the song on the record, but with lyrics Did you settle for me when you agreed to settle down? Is the weight of it all why when you shower you breakdown/ God knows I don't deserve you, but God knows that I'll try/ I have from now 'til the very end to give you your best life/ This is the guilt of a man who wants to love you you know it’s a song that needs to be heard, shared with others who have also experienced adverse aspects of postpartum depression.
“I truly just believe it's one of those songs that I'll put my writer hat on for the rest of my life,” Abbott stated.
The title track “Somewhere Down the Road” is a good example of how far the Josh Abbott Band has progressed sonically and lyrically with their country music compositions. With the lyrics, I’ve got a gambler’s grin/ It feels good to win/ I’m gonna kiss the dice and let ‘em fly/ And then do it all over again their devil-may-care attitude is prevalent throughout the record.
With Somewhere Down The Road, the Josh Abbott Band shows an uncompromising commitment to moving forward and constantly pushing into new musical terrain, mining inspiration from such eclectic sources as the folkier edges of Americana and Texas Red Dirt country as well as subtly inventive indie-rock acts like Death Cab for Cutie.
Abbott concluded, “I’ve never wanted to make a career out of playing the same songs over and over; I’ve always aspired to be the guy who keeps going as he gets older and continually gives people something new that they can look forward to. To me, this album feels like a real turning point toward that, and I’m optimistic and ready to see where we end up going next.”
Something I’ve noticed from artists/bands who have been at it for a hot minute: You often get their best music when they stop writing/playing songs for the radio or even their fans. Once they put out music that means something to them, you often get the best music of their careers. So is the case with Josh Abbott Band’s Somewhere Down The Road. It’s a win-win for all.
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