Country singer-songwriter Josh Thompson travelled down a road many aspiring musicians travel. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Thompson was born into a family of concrete workers, a trade that he himself thought he would follow. However after spending most of his twenties working concrete, he made the move to Nashville to follow his dreams and start a career as a songwriter. The risk was worth it, as he soon locked up a publishing deal and saw his songs recorded by Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker. He then went on to release two albums, 2010’s Way Out Here and 2014’s Turn It Up, with modest success, all while continuing to write. One common thread that ties his work together would be a sense of working class, down-home values, which comes from two places. Thompson credits his blue-collar upbringing back in Wisconsin, but also the music that epitomizes those same values.
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“The music that I was a fan of was always rooted in that working class theme and that rootsy blue-collar, hard-working kind of music,” Thompson said in a recent phone interview. Specifically, he credits George Jones, both Hanks (Sr. and Jr.) and Merle Haggard, who he refers to as “the voice of the common man.” To hear these values in action, look no further than songs like “Livin’ Like Hank” and “Work in the Mornin’,” two highlights from his upcoming EP, Change: The Lost Record, Volume One, out Oct. 9.
While Thompson’s songs way come from a specific place in his psych, there’s almost nothing uniform about his songwriting process. Whether he sits down with an acoustic guitar or goes in for a co-writing session with other artists, inspiration strikes a different way each time.
“It goes from waking me up at three in the morning, to writing something down, to just a melody, to having nothing and something pop up in a conversation,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t happen the same way twice.”
This sentiment rains true on the upcoming EP, most of which was recorded several years ago while he was still signed to a major label. Thompson says he doesn’t even remember the wide variety of ways most of the songs came together, but does remember how one in particular, “Gotta Go to Heaven,” formed from a night out at a Florida bar.
“I love ‘Gotta Go to Heaven,’ especially, because of how it was written,” Thompson said. “We wrote it on a bar napkin at three in the morning in Key West, (Florida) and forgot all about it. We found the lyrics the next day and put [music] to it.”
Aside from the six tracks that make up the new EP, Thompson has six more from the same sessions ready to release next year. He chose to break the project into two parts simply because he feels listeners consumption habits call for shorter releases instead of full-length projects. But don’t worry, Volume One is a solid listen front-to-back. Along with the aforementioned blue-collar jams, “Same Ol’ Plain Ol’ Me,” a track co-written with Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip, touches on similar sentiments of living a simple life in a small town. Thompson gets a bit quieter on “Change,” a lyrically clever song about life’s changes, with a chorus of “Ain’t it kinda sad? / Don’t it make you laugh? / How it stays the same / Change” and the EP’s third track, “Over Me,” which sits on a nice middle ground between a break-up ballad and a bar rocker.
Check out the story behind”Over Me,” as well as an exclusive acoustic performance of the song below: