SONG PREMIERE: Josh King Holds Nothing Back On – Alt-Country All Nighter Recap “Follow Through”

On the cover of his solo debut, Into the Blue, Josh King looks ready to toss his Stetson into the ring alongside modern outlaw-country stars like Chris Stapleton and Jamey Johnson. But when you sit down and listen, the music is as much Jon Brion as Johnny Cash. This soon-to-be father—and one-time leader of Greensboro, N.C., indie-folk rockers House of Fools—brings a craftsmanship to his songwriting that walks the line between Dawes & Willie Nelson, Tom Petty & Elliott Smith. His former group earned its keep recording for now-defunct punk/emo imprint Drive-Thru Records and performing alongside acts as varied as Robert Randolph, Leon Russell and Jimmy Eat World.

The music King has constructed on Into the Blue is deeply personal and rooted in mindfully crafted Americana and hummable guitar pop. The album was written during a rocky transitional period in his life, a desolate drug-fueled few years in the wake of his younger days touring with House of Fools. “By the end of that era, I’d given up on my music,” King says. “My favorite thing in the world is to write a song, even if it’s just for me and no one else hears it. But at that point in my life, I wasn’t even doing that—I was just partying as hard as I could.”

Take Into the Blue’s countrified “Follow Through,” for example, penned in the stark aftermath of an all-night bender. “I wrote it at a friend’s house,” King says. “Everybody had finally gone to bed, and I was alone watching the sun rise. The song is a reflection about being selfish and failing to follow through on your commitments.”

At the heart of Into the Blue is a focus on King’s internal struggle to leave his days of recklessness in the rearview. On “The Stranger,” he comes to grips with feelings of isolation once he cuts himself off from his friends at the bars and clubs he used to haunt. “These days, with social media, it’s easy to sit there and watch what’s going on with everybody,” King says. “For a while, I was getting hung up on everything I was missing out on while in this self-imposed exile at home. When you’ve lived so much of your life touring and playing in bands, and then you basically vanish from your hometown scene, it can feel like everybody has forgotten about you.”

But with the help of his old House of Fools bandmate (and co-producer) Jordan Powers, King was inspired to return from his creative hiatus. “Essentially, Jordan told me to stop wallowing and start writing music again so we could record it,” King laughs. “So I did. I pulled myself together, moved into a new house with my girlfriend—who’s now my wife—and I began a new chapter in my life. I quit going out all the time, got focused and wrote this album, drawing from my experiences along the way.”

The song “Friends” reflects back on King’s mixed emotions seeing his old buddy embracing domestic life back when King was still at the bar every night. “The song is about one of my best friends in the world, Joel Kiser, who plays guitar on the album and played with me in House of Fools,” King says. “It was written around the time he told me that he and his wife were having a baby. It’s about friends settling down and me wanting to be happy for them, but being really selfishly bummed out. I didn’t realize until recording the song that it was such a huge turning point in my life—my friends were moving on. But now here I am, newly married with a kid of my own on the way. It all makes sense now.”

After two decades as a professional musician, King has finally found his voice as a songwriter; his melodic roots pop shimmering brilliantly in the Southern sun. Born in Mobile, Ala., and cutting his teeth in the Greensboro scene, with Into the Blue King delivers a hopeful meditation on getting right, forging a bold new path and following it to a sense of purpose. He’s a talented singer-songwriter in the grand North Carolina tradition that also gave us piedmont blues, Link Wray, the dB’s, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams and Polvo.

Glide is proud to premiere “Follow Through” (below) penned in the stark aftermath of a cocaine bender. “I wrote it at a friend’s house after being up all night,” King says. “Everybody had finally gone to bed, and I was watching the sunrise. King blends the blunt hard living storytelling of Patterson Hood and the galloping melodies of Jason Isbell into a walloping punch of rock and country.


Photo by Todd Turner

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