Josh Kelley: Southern comfort

Dana D'Orazio

As you enter end of summer denial, those songs of summer are probably still running through your head. My guess is you’ve heard Southern crooner Josh Kelley; if you don’t recognize the name maybe his first single, “Amazing,” might ring a bell. Kelley, 23, and his debut album, “Songs For The Ride Home” have made a noticeable splash at record stores. This Augusta, Ga. native began dabbling in music at age 11, first playing the guitar in the band Inside Blue, with his younger brother. They played and recorded their first CD, “Heckle Street” which received praise from the legendary James Brown whom frequented the same recording studio.

Kelley continued playing music at bars in between attending classes at the University of Mississippi, where he was an art major and golf star.

Kelley had an interesting start, as he found popularity uploading his self-recorded songs onto music sites such as the now-defunct Napster. Kelley used to spam his songs, saving them as essentials for fans of Dave Matthews or James Taylor.

His self-promotion worked when in 2002 he was signed to Hollywood Records. Kelley left college behind for a music career, recording “Songs” with producer John Alagia, who previously worked with Dave Matthews Band. Kelley remembers a common CD-burning practice from his time at college. “Before everyone drove home from break, everybody would be burning CDs – random mixes of things – they’d all say ‘I’m burning something for the ride home.’ With this CD – the way I’ve written it and all its different moods – I really want it to be their music for the ride home.”

Upon listening to the album one will find ear-pleasing rhythms that flow from upbeat to mellow. Kelley’s unique vocals and understated southern charm are what set him apart and make for enjoyable laid-back listening. One draw-back to the album would be that some of his live tracks have more behind them in terms of guitar-playing skills than the tracks on “Songs For The Ride Home.” In any case, check Josh Kelley out and give him a listen – his unique style just might win you over.