It clearly takes some degree of talent to make it in the music business. It also takes killer songs that mesh the perfect lyric with a fitting and captivating arrangement. But possibly the hardest, most frustrating part of the whole ordeal are the roles that timing, cosmic alignment, being in the right place at the right time, and pure unadulterated passion play. That matrix of unidentifiable variables that come together for some, while conspiring against others is what Josh Grider explores on his newest album, Luck & Desire.
The Las Cruces, New Mexico native moved to Nashville by way of Texas in early 2011 just to “try something different.” There, he hung around Music Row for a few years meeting fellow songwriters, signing a publishing deal, and building a network of like-minded friends who challenged his writing and supported his dreams. One of them was fellow singer/songwriter and soon-to-be producer, Trent Willmon. The connection was monumental. “He’s savvy,” Josh explains. “He understands what being an artist is. He understands what being a writer is. He understands Texas and Nashville, and he understands the road. He understands so much of what I do, and the proof is in the pudding. We made a awesome record.”
That was the goal—to make an awesome record. But for Josh, it was about more than just making an album that would sell well or produce a litany of number-one hits. He says his goal was “to make something artistically satisfying enough for the purist in me, but relatable enough that I could play it for my dad.” He pauses and explains, “My dad is a smart guy, but he’s not a studied musician or anything, he’s just a lover of country music.” Indeed he is. He raised Josh on the classics, the legends. Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins and Willie Nelson are the foundation that Grider builds on, but his own generation of musical peers is also present in his music. “Dave Matthews was a huge influence. John Mayer and Chris Thile make me want to just quit,” he laughs. “I’m just blown away by everything those guys do. I could never do what they do, but I’m certainly challenged by them. For me, they are setting the bar for songwriters in our generation.”
The formally trained singer, who remembers pressing, “play” on his Fisher Price tape recorder to hear Ricky Skaggs “Heartbroke,” always knew country was where he belonged. Even though he played guitar in a jazz combo in high school, and received a scholarship to attend college and study classical voice, it only took one night performing in a Waco honky-tonk for Josh’s relationship with his roots to be solidified.
Josh began putting pen to paper in high school and soon realized his passion. He beams when he says, “Writing is my favorite thing in the world. I’m very fortunate to be given the ability to deliver what I write, and I guess that’s why singing the songs I wrote is my second favorite thing in the world.” Writing is more than a job for Josh. It’s a passion that allows him to chronicle his life, and a therapy that helps him make sense of the world around him. When speaking about song selection for Luck and Desire he says, “I just started looking at what I had been writing and all of the sudden these themes of want, and need, and desire, and getting or not getting what you want started surfacing.” According to Josh, that is just what seems to happen. “There will be seasons in my life and things that I go through that will definitely influence my writing. It’s really neat to go back and look at how the songs reflect what I was going through in my life and how I was trying to work it out musically.”
There is, too, an unspoken theme to Luck & Desire that Josh is most proud of. “Luck and Desire definitely play a big thematic role in this album,” he says. “But that particular song sort of ends sadly for desire. I think there’s more hope than that in the record. Overall, I want there to be hope, because I have hope. Without it what the hell is the point? I say focus on the good and believe that something good is going to happen, and it just might.”
For more information check out www.joshgrider.com