It might sound a little strange hearing someone in their mid-30s singing songs about mortality and the fragile aspect of life. But, after all, as this week’s passing of Pop icon Prince illustrates, nothing is ever guaranteed. In the case of Josh Kelley, there are a couple of songs on his new album that could very well serve as something of a wake-up call to live life to the fullest, because one simply never knows.
One of those two tracks is the poignant “Life’s Too Short.” It’s a song and a lyric that I don’t think Kelley could have written and performed with the same amount of depth a decade ago when he married his wife, actress Katherine Heigl. But, life passes by and one realizes what’s important. You can tell that’s where Kelley is coming from here. The other cut on this album that fully illustrates this point is “One Foot In The Grave,” which resonates with its’ lyrics about looking back on a life lived (so far) and being comfortable with the moves you’ve made – warts and all. Both songs rank among the strongest performances of his career.
That’s not the only thing to love about New Lane Road. The singer-songwriter also includes some very potent straight-ahead love songs on this collection, such as the tender “The Best Of Me,” as well as the very dramatic “It’s Your Move,” which is about two people at a critical crossroads in a relationship. It’s a highly emotional charged cut, and Kelley knocks it out of the ballpark.
This disc also features a few stylistic segueways – from the Springsteen-ish slant of “The Rock Who Found A Rolling Stone” to the unabashed 80s pop stylings of “Call It What It Is.” He takes perhaps the album’s most traditional Country turn on the earthy title cut and “Cowboy Love Song,” but also manages to mix everything quite well on the groove-filled “I’ll Be Standin’ Tall.”
Perhaps the best bet for radio airplay – if Sugar Hill wants to go in that direction is on the sobering “Only God Can Stop Her Now,” another emotional masterpiece of the disc. That statement is far from a knock, however, as New Lane Road succeeds at being a truly adult album – with lyrics and thoughts that you would have lived a few years to fully recognize. With that said, this album is truly one worth listening to!