Joshua Ray Walker
Once the best-kept secret of Dallas’ music scene, Joshua Ray Walker catapulted himself into the international spotlight with his 2019 debut, Wish You Were Here. An album of character-driven songwriting and golden-era Texas twang, Wish You Were Here didn’t just nod to the larger-than-life troubadours who’d inspired Walker’s craft — it brought him into their ranks, too, adding Walker’s name to the shortlist of songwriters worthy of carrying the torches of Guy Clark, John Prine, and Blaze Foley.
What may have looked like overnight success to an outsider was, in reality, the product of a decade-long climb up the industry’s ranks. A working musician since the age of 13, Walker spent years balancing his gigs as a sideman with a dizzyingly busy schedule of solo shows, regularly racking up more than 250 gigs annually. He sharpened his songwriting, too, developing a blend of autobiography and fiction that often revealed as much about the song’s creator as its characters. That prolific approach now leads Walker to 2020’s Glad You Made It, a sophomore record that both matches and magnifies the vital, vulnerable lure of his debut.
“I could use a shot of confidence to get a word in edgewise, I need to see that silver lining, in those dark and stormy skies, and pray I catch that feeling that I used to know back when, back when I never knew I’d ever need a second wind,” John Baumann sings on “Second Wind,” a deep cut from his forthcoming album, Country Shade. After having a conversation with the singer-songwriter, it’s evident that he tends to look at things with a glass-half-full mentality-complemented by a deeply-ingrained dose of ambition. He is curious how time passes in its unknowable and ever-interesting way, and he’s ready for what it’s bringing next for him.
“‘Second Wind’ is about digging deep and finding the next gear when you’ve lost interest or motivation,” John says about the track. “It’s about the times when I feel like nothing is moving forward, but ultimately really about anyone struggling to get up and get back on the horse.”
It’s a familiar sentiment to most anyone who’s felt like they’re teetering on the precipice of taking their next step, making their next leap out into the world. John has had a busy last few years – he’s a member of The Panhandlers, with fellow Texans Josh Abbott, William Clark Green and Cleto Cordero, and signed on with The Next Waltz, the Texas-based brainchild of legendary songwriter Bruce Robison, for management. He’s also continued to prove himself as a promising songwriter within his home state and beyond its borders, with Kenny Chesney recording “Gulf Moon” for 2018’s Songs for the Saints.