By Bob Doerschuk
© 2010 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
Josh Thompson’s future seemed written in concrete — specifically, in his father’s concrete business in Cedarburg, Wis., where he began working at 12. Years would pass before Thompson dared to dream about making music as a livelihood. In fact, he was 21 when he got his first guitar.
“I really just intended to play some of my favorite Merle Haggard songs around the campfire,” he explained. “But I began writing about six months later. Then it just got into my blood and controlled my life.”
By the time he got to Nashville in 2005, Thompson was nurturing a knack for capturing the nuances of life in a lyric and a tune. After landing a music publishing deal and making an initial impression by co-writing “Growing Up Is Getting Old,” the title track of Jason Michael Carroll’s latest album, with Jeremy Campbell, he built a reputation strong enough to earn a record deal with Columbia Nashville, which released a four-song, self-titled digital EP in November 2009.
On his album debut Way Out Here, in stores today, Thompson unveils a double-threat talent as a writer and performer. Produced by Michael Knox, the album features 10 tracks, nine co-written by Thompson. The last, “Sinner,” he wrote on his own as a profession of repentance tempered by a hint of stubborn pride. Articulated over an understated but dramatic backup, it rings with a quality of honesty that goes beyond craftsmanship.
Other sides of life emerge vividly on Thompson’s first single, “Beer on the Table,” which he wrote with Ken Johnson and Andi Zack. Using a technique familiar to Country composers, the song is built around a play on words that uncovers a new level of truth: Over a stomping, dance-floor beat prickled by bits of banjo, Thompson runs down his working-man credo, which adds up to “workin’ hard all week puts the beer on the table.” And you know from the grin in his voice that this artist writes and sings from first-hand experience.
IN HIS OWN WORDS Q&A
DREAM DUET PARTNER
“Lee Ann Womack or Norah Jones.”
CD INYOUR STEREO
“Satisfied by Ashley Monroe.”
FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
“A bar in Marinette, Wis. It was horrible … long story!”
SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I love cantaloupe.”
BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
“Waylon Jennings’ autobiography and Lone Survivor.”
On the web: www.JoshThompsonOfficial.com