Since releasing “Beer on the Table” in 2009, Josh Thompson has been the singing the anthems of everyday, normal Americans. His latest release, Turn It Up, is no different as it spans the country music gamut of good times to bad, summarizing what it’s like to be alive.
“I think it’s definitely because I grew up like probably most people and that’s being a real person with a real family and a real life situation,” Josh tells CMIL. “My parents both worked hard and I was raised that way. Fortunately, I never got to a point where that was ever too far away. Some people move up to the fourth floor and stop shopping at Walmart and all of a sudden they lose a little bit of touch with reality and with the normal country music fans. It’s very important as a writer and an artist to not lose that touch.”
As evident in his debut album, Way Out Here, Josh has a tendency to lean toward songs where the title is contrary to the song’s lyrics. “I Won’t Go Crazy” featured the narrator professing that a breakup wouldn’t drive him crazy only to followup with all the crazy things he’d do. “Cold Beer With Your Name on It,” the first single from Turn It Up, leads you to believe it’s a good time song from the title, but the lyrics reveal a tale of love lost.
“I have absolutely no idea why I gravitate toward songs like that,” Josh says. “Nobody’s ever pointed that out before. When you write songs you’re not going to find a different subject that anybody’s going to relate to. You can write about wood bees or the molting stage of a baby bird or something like that, but it’s not going to attract anybody like love, a party, or heartache is. There’s basically nothing new so you have to reinvent the wheel almost. I do that by twist and by a title that’s very awkward. I love awkward titles. I love those times in songs that you never saw coming. That’s part of my passion for writing. I love those little intricacies of twists and turns in a song.”
A notable songwriter as well, the Wisconsin native has numerous songwriting credits on Turn It Up. “Wanted Me Gone,” Josh wrote with Nashville’s notorious goofballs, Brad and Brett Warren, a feat that in itself is impressive.
“It’s hilarious that you just said, ‘I don’t know how you got anything done’ because I don’t know either,” Josh laughs. “Because the Warren brothers are the ADD-est people I’ve ever seen and I’m not one to brag. I’m not trying to call the kettle black because I’m all over the place and it is kind of funny. We have written a lot of songs together and we’ve had a great time every time we’ve done it so it just works. I love those guys. They’re great songwriters. They’ve been on the other side and into the ringer, and they just have a great talent and a great perspective.”
“Firebird” is another love song on the project, however, this time the object of Josh’s affections is a car.
“I’ve never have had a Firebird,” he admits. “That’s when the imagination kicks it. I do write my life word for word, but I speak things into existence. You know that saying “art imitates life”? I’m at “life imitates art” so by writing and releasing that song that now means that within the next couple years it I will have a Firebird.”
Josh has the ability to deliver honest, country songs, while at the same time creating a better world (one in which he’s got his dream car). That sentiment is what he was striving for with Turn It Up.
“The purpose and the meaning I wanted to get across on this record was that I wanted a record that even the sad songs seemed happy,” he says. “It’s springtime. It’s getting on to be a party time of year and I wanted a record out that would do that and also be a party during the live show.”