Joshua Thomas is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in Portland, OR. Thomas independently released his EP The Harboring in 2014 and has subsequently released a string of singles, garnering praise for “conjuring the kind of sad-eyed balladeering of artists like Rufus Wainwright, Anohni, John Grant, and even fellow Portlanders like Matt Dorrien” (Vortex Magazine, 2018). Throughout 2019, Thomas toured extensively supporting artists like Adrianne Lenker, Twain, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Buck Meek. He is releasing singles in 2020 that were recorded with Ryan Oxford (Y La Bamba) over the course of the year and making plans to record a new EP for release in 2021.
Today Glide is premiering Thomas’ new single “Jimmy,” which is due out June 5th. Backed by a foggy piano that almost sounds off-key, as if the sound was drifting across a moonlight landscape, Thomas lets his powerful vocals be front and center. Bringing to mind the more heartfelt, introspective songs of the late Jeff Buckley and even Bruce Springsteen, Thomas draws from personal experiences to build his reflection of American society as a whole and the contradictions and lies that come with it. This all feels especially poignant at this moment in time when we are facing down a pandemic and trying to grasp the response of a government that cares little for its people. His chorus of “thieves and rattlesnakes” isn’t exactly uplifting or optimistic, but it feels painfully relevant now.
Thomas reflects on the inspiration behind the song:
“‘Jimmy’ was written after I returned from a tour in 2018. The character of Jimmy is a few different people I wrapped up into one. I wanted to communicate my sense of what I had just seen on the road almost in the form of a letter, addressing someone younger than myself who still had stars in their eyes, saw all the possibilities and held hopes I myself held when I was twenty, twenty one. The lie of religion, the disillusionment of the American dream, the reality of adult romantic relationships and the crumbling of Democracy, these were all around me as I drove around the country singing songs for half-filled rooms and felt the weight of the choices I’d made. I wanted to write a song that communicated the overall sense I had come to understand – humans are all thieves and rattlesnakes. But Jimmy will have to figure that out on his own, just as I did.”