Josh Grider's new album Good People has been a long time coming.
Speaking literally, the New Mexico native's last full band album Luck & Desire came out in 2014, and four years between albums in country music can feel like an eternity (even if he released an acoustic EP in 2015). But this new album -- philosophically -- has been a long time coming, too.
"The creating is a blast; the waiting is agony," Grider tells Wide Open Country on a recent trip to Nashville. But the messages on Good People are coming at just the right time.
Josh Grider first broke onto the Texas scene in 2005. And like most young upstarts, he put a lot of miles on tires traveling Texas and figuring out how his sound fit in the overall landscape. "I spent a lot of years just playing to play, because I thought you had to," Grider says. "I drove myself crazy, and I drove myself broke."
But a few albums in, Grider found himself traveling to Nashville and getting encouragement from co-writers and industry pros who kept telling him he had "what it takes" to make it on a national level. He eventually moved to Music City.
And Grider certainly fits the prototype of a country star. Tall, handsome and capable of pulling off a cowboy hat, Grider delivers his well-crafted songs through a smooth baritone with just a tint of southern drawl. So it's no surprise the goal was get some national love when he signed with a company called AMP in the early 2010s.
But a pair of EPs with the company ultimately resonated most in Texas, where he found some radio success with songs like "Lone Star Highway." After he found himself traveling back to Texas so frequently to play, Grider moved the family back to Central Texas.
There's Still Good People
AMP eventually came to an end and Grider signed with a new publishing company in Nashville which allowed him to travel up for one week a month while still living in Texas. It was during this newfound freedom that Grider planted the seeds of what eventually became Good People.
"I just love the songwriting community of Nashville so much and feel really lucky to be a part of it," Grider says. "I feel really energized when I'm in Nashville and that's when I write my best songs."
Part of that community involves Bobby Hamrick and James Slater, who co-wrote three of the new album's standout tracks with Grider. That includes title track "Good People," whose music video we premiered not long ago. The three wrote the song not long after the tragic shooting in Dallas that took the lives of five police officers.
And since they wrote and released the song, the message seems to matter more and more every day. "Have faith in your fellow humans," Grider says. "Even if your screen is telling you not to."
An Honest Look
Songs like "Sex & Alcohol" breach topics most country artists stray from, but manage to deliver a bit of a biting criticism with a down home "aw shucks" attitude. "Less And Less" is just a masterfully written tale about the gradual recovery from heartbreak.
"Top Of The Bottle" is Grider's first true drinking song, but it's also the quirkiest, funkiest song on the record. Which makes a fairly worn out song subject stand out as an undeniably fun moment on the record. Grider laughs as he jokes that he balanced out the drinking song with his first truly religious song, too -- his version of "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," a gorgeous duet featuring his wife Kristi and dedicated to his late grandmother.
It's All About Perspective
For the first time in his eight albums, Grider's voice really, truly shines on Good People. A lot of that has to do with Grider deciding to record them at his home in Texas after laying down the music with an all-star cast of musicians in Nashville.
"I put tens of thousands of dollars worth of time into the vocals," Grider says -- an actual cost he avoided by taking the work on himself. "God, I sang these a bunch of times. I'd record it, live with it, live with it some more, DELETE IT, then record it again."
But it was an important step that takes the album from a collection of catchy, well-written songs to an actual statement. And while eclectic, the whole record has a certain cohesive feeling about it. Because despite the range of song subjects and styles, we know we're getting something truly unique -- Grider's perspective.
"That's the job of the artistic community in general, to give their perspective," Grider says. "With this record, if I can provide a little bit of hope, a little bit of honesty, a little bit of perspective -- if that's my role in this whole thing, I'm happy with that."
You can, and should, buy Good People here.