Joshua Ray Walker - Photo Credit: David McClister

Joshua Ray Walker Takes On The Cranberries’ ‘Linger’ With Help From Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass

When Joshua Ray Walker started working on his upcoming album ‘What Is It Even?‘ – his tribute to some of his favorite female artists and songwriters, out August 4th, 2023 via Soundly Music – he didn’t expect that Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass would appear on the record. It was probably even less likely that Gass would provide a recorder solo on the track. But that’s exactly what happened on Walker’s take on The Cranberries’ certified classic. Walker’s other-worldly voice shines on the track, Adam “Ditch” Kurtz’s pedal steel adds some twang, and Gass’ recorder solo mirrors the original’s slide guitar solo. 

“After belting it out with the band on a late night drive after a show, we decided ‘Linger’ had to make the album. Once in studio, our bassist Billy Bones suggested we ask our new friend Kyle Gass to add a recorder solo. It was the perfect addition, and fit squarely within our ethos of ‘What Is It Even’ while making the record.”

Listen to ‘Linger‘ here.

Walker has been called “country’s most fascinating young songwriter” by Rolling Stone and “one of country’s most exciting storytellers” by Spin. After releasing his first three albums, a trilogy of sorts that No Depression calls “the country music equivalent of the great American novel,” Walker decided it was time to just have some fun. The result is, ‘What Is It Even?’. The genres covered and Walker’s interpretations are equal parts familiar and jarring. There’s a country version of Cher’s ‘Believe’, a sort of grunge/country adaptation of Q Lazarus’ ‘Goodbye Horses’, a mostly straight version of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’, a Spaghetti Western-inspired take on Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’, and a type of bluegrass adaptation of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ that builds with vocal momentum like the original. The song choices make the album feel something like an Alice In Wonderland version of your most fun-loving friend’s iPod shuffle dug out of their closet.

“I just wanted to make something that was fun,” Walker says. “I realized how influential female pop records and artists have been on me as a person, even more than in a creative sense.”

While his audience had grown and he was reaching the sort of success he’d hoped would result from his first three albums, it had been a difficult few years for Walker. His father lost a long battle with lung cancer, and a trusted advisor and musical mentor died unexpectedly. Coming out of COVID-19 lockdown, the country artist was also dealing with the flooding of his home. Beyond just lost memories, the flood made the house unlivable for months on end, meaning that Walker, who spent 200 days a year touring, would return home only to live in an extended stay hotel, as if he were still on the road. Career success wasn’t an immediate conduit to happiness, as many artists have learned. Walker wanted to get in the studio and have fun and record the sort of songs that are familiar salves to millions of people. The kind of music that can cheer you up. 

For someone who has made waves in country music for his vocal range, from energizing yodels to astonishing falsettos, Walker admits that what was required from this covers album was the hardest he’s ever pushed himself as a vocalist in the studio. Before this album was ever even an idea, these women – with their ability to create instant ear worms with their voices – helped Walker realize his vocal gifts when he used to sing a Beyonce or Sia song in the kitchen or the shower. He did what all of us do, only, unlike most of us, he discovered he could actually hit the notes. 

Walker just wrapped up a headline tour of the West Coast and Southwest, and he returns to the road this week to open a pair of shows for Morgan Wade. After that, he’ll make his way to Newport, Rhode Island for his Newport Folk Festival debut and a special Newport Folk Festival after party show. He’ll begin his month-long, first-ever headline tour of Europe and the UK on August 11th, then head out with The Mavericks for a run of Texas dates before opening Marcus King’s Fall tour.

Joshua Ray Walker – 2023 Tour Dates:

July 13 – Little Rock, AR – The Hall^

July 14 – – Birmingham, AL – Iron City^

Jul 28-30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

July 28 – Newport, RI – Parlor Bar & Kitchen (Newport Folk Festival after party)

August 3 – Crossville, TN – Byrds Creek Festival

August 4 – Indianapolis, IN – HI-FI Annex

August 5 – Appleton, WI – Mile of Music 2023

August 11 – Kristiansand, NO – Vaktbua

August 13 – Oslo, NO – Cosmopolite Scene

August 14 – Trondheim, NO – Trykkeriet

August 15 – Bergen, NO – Ole Bull

August 17 – Stavanger, NO – Tou Scene

August 18 – Bodø, Norway – Parkenfestivalen

August 20 – Stockholm, SWE – Rootsy Live Stockholm

August 22 – Gothenburg, SWE – Pustervik

August 23 – Malmö, SWE – Folk å Rock

August 24-26 – Copenhagen, DK – Tønder

August 27 – Lutterworth, UK – The Long Road

August 28 – Hamburg, DE – Nachtwache

August 30 – Nijmegen, NL – Merleyn

August 31 – Amsterdam, NL – Het Zonnehuis

September 2 – London, UK – Oslo Hackney

September 3 – Newcastle, UK – The Cluny 2

September 4 – Glasgow, UK – The Hug and Pint

September 5 – Manchester, UK – The Deaf Institute

September 6 – Brighton, UK – The Prince Albert

September 8 – Cologne, DE – Blue Shell

September 9 – Enschede, NL – Tuckerville

September 10 – Berlin, DE – PRIVATCLUB

September 21 – Amarillo, TX – Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts**

September 22 – Dallas, TX – Majestic Theatre**

September 30 – Houston, TX – House of Blues**

October 22 – Ventura, CA – The Majestic Ventura Theater#

October 25 – San Antonio, TX – Aztec Theatre#

November 3 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall#

November 4 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall#

November 5 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution Live#

November 7 – St Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live#

November 9 – Knoxville, TN – The Mill & Mine#

November 10 – Knoxville, TN – The Mill & Mine#

November 11 – Macon, GA – Macon City Auditorium#

November 14 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre#

November 15 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre#

November 18 – Mobile, AL – Soul Kitchen Music Hall#

^ supporting Morgan Wade

** supporting The Mavericks

# supporting Marcus King

For more information and tickets, visit Joshua online on his official Website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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