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To learn where Joshua Hedley’s heart lies, look at his knuckles. They’re tattooed with “11.44.1511,” the chord changes in the intro of Merle Haggard’s 1966 honky tonk classic “Swinging Doors.”
“I really like the ‘60s sound in general,” said Hedley. “The stuff coming out of California (and) that slick Nashville, countrypolitan sound…I feel like that’s when country hit its stride.”
The lush strings and background vocals of the Nashville Sound feature prominently on “Mr. Jukebox,” Hedley’s debut LP for Third Man Records. The album, which comes out Friday, Apr. 20 (the same day Hedley makes his Grand Ole Opry debut), is a must-listen for country music fans.
Toe-tapping title track “Mr. Jukebox” sounds like a recently unearthed classic, and although recitations have been absent from country music for decades, in the pleading ballad “Let’s Take a Vacation,” Hedley delivers one in a smooth baritone that he’s honed for years at Robert’s Western World.