Josh Merritt is a native of Owensboro, Kentucky and inherited the grit and honesty so essential to heartland culture. Having spent the better part of the past decade honing his chops on the Southern tour circuit, Merritt slides effortlessly into his own on debut studio release Reynolds Station, a stirring collection of autobiographical songs that recount his tumultuous childhood in the clutches of rural America’s amphetamine epidemic. A countrified concept album, it’s a grim testament to the tragedy that has upended so many lives and led to the loss of both faith and fortitude. Taken from his young mother as she struggled with drug addiction and raised by his grandparents, Merritt experienced the effects of substance abuse at close range.
“I’m not necessarily trying to impart any big lesson here,” Merritt says, “I’m just trying to tell people about what I’ve experienced, to share this album with people who have gone through the same thing so maybe they’ll be able to relate and find a connection to their own experience.” ve.
Produced by hit songwriter and recording artist Shannon Lawson, and engineered and mixed by Zac Kasik (who worked with Jamey Johnson on platinum-selling album That Lonesome Song), Reynolds Station features veteran session players such as bassist Robert Kerns (Sheryl Crow), drummer Shakey Fowles (Kid Rock) and keyboard player Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd).
Though Reynolds Station is his first studio album, Merritt already has plenty of hard-won experience under his belt, having opened shows for Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels Band, LoCash Cowboys, Colt Ford, Corey Smith, Trent Tomlinson and Sonia Leigh. He was initially inspired to make music by his father, the middle child of 14, who cut his teeth playing bluegrass in the family band. That same enthusiasm for music rubbed off on Merritt when he was still a youngster, and he soon found his way down the path to a set of influences that includes Jason Isbell, Todd Snider, New Grass Revival, The Eagles, John Moreland and John Anderson.
Glide is proud to premiere the video for “Live With That” a contagious honkytonk singalong with some superb guitar, piano, and horns that make boogie like a B side to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps.” Merritt throws together the pop charm of Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats alongside a southeast dose of hill country credibility.
Merrit shares his creative inspiration behind the song
My new album, Reynolds Station, is pretty somber as far as the story behind the songs and the energy of the music. When producer Shannon Lawson and I were first planning how to approach the record, it was something that came up. We wanted at least one fun, upbeat song, but in doing that we didn’t want to break the story or the vibe of the record. Shannon asked me how the story began. I told him I wasn’t exactly sure.
A few weeks later, I was with my mom—who is a central figure on the album—and I told her my dilemma: “How do I make a fun song out of such a dark theme?” She said, “Tell the truth. So “Live With That” takes everything back to the beginning—to before things spun out of control. At first, we were having a lot of fun. It was exciting! Of course, it all ended horribly, as these things do, but that wasn’t always the case. I figured, “If you’re gonna tell how it ended, you gotta tell the truth about how it began.”
“Live With That” is based on a story my mom told me about how she first started manufacturing methamphetamine. My aunt Jennifer had been in a bad car wreck that nearly killed her, and after she was released from the hospital she got an insurance check for $15,000 for her medical bills and rehabilitation. Instead, she gathered my mom, step-dad, uncle and a few others one night to tell them about how this connection she’d met could get them into distribution. They devised a plan and used the money to fund a very successful meth lab. That is, successful until they started burning through all the drugs they were making.”