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Rooted in Country: Joshua Ray Walker on Guy Clark's 'Stuff That Works'

Chad Windham

East Dallas-native Joshua Ray Walker is a master of crafting striking portraits of folks dealing with grief ("Flash Paper"), addiction ("Gas Station Roses"), homelessness ("Dallas Lights") and more. Whether Walker is writing about boat show models or the mysterious D.B. Cooper, his lyrics showcase a keen insight that makes you feel as if you've just spent a couple hours on a barstool next to one of his world-weary characters.

The singer-songwriter, who'll release his third album See You Next Time on Oct. 8, was raised on the songs of Lone Star State lyricists such as Billy Joe Shaver and Guy Clark -- artists known for their evocative and transportive songwriting. Walker credits Clark's "Stuff That Works," from the 1995 album Dublin Blues, with teaching him a valuable songwriting lesson.

"Many Texas greats paint large pictures with few words; Guy Clark might be the best of all," Walker tells Wide Open Country.  "In four short lines he takes you somewhere so real you can smell it. This has greatly influenced my writing, and I try to take every listener somewhere familiar with my songs."

Read More: Rooted in Country: Jason Eady on Robert Earl Keen's 'Feeling Good Again'

See You Next Time is the much-anticipated follow-up to Walker's 2020 release Glad You Made It. He released his critically-acclaimed debut album Wish You Were Here in 2019.

Walker says the trilogy of albums is a nod to the barroom characters who make up many of his songs.

"The whole idea with the trilogy was to use the honky-tonk as a setting where all these different characters could interact with each other," Walker said in a press release. "In my mind, this album's taking place on the night before the bar closes forever--the songs are just me taking snapshots of that world, and all the moments that happen in it."

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Rooted in Country: Joshua Ray Walker on Guy Clark's 'Stuff That Works'