After a year filled with engagements both personal and professional, Augusta-bred singer-songwriter Josh Kelley is coming home again.
Mr. Kelley, who recently separated from his old record label, started a new one, released a new album and got engaged to Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl, returns to familiar territory, hitting Washington Road just in time for the Masters. Mr. Kelley performs Tuesday at the Country Club, 2834 Washington Road.
He is on the road promoting his album Just Say the Word, released on his own Threshold Records. Many of the songs, Mr. Kelley acknowledged, were written as wooing material.
"They definitely came from my new relationship," he said with a laugh in a recent telephone interview. "Well, I don't know how new it is now, but at the time it was definitely in the honeymoon period. I mean, I was out on the road, writing songs, and I would send them to her.
"I was trying to impress her."
Although an occasional love song does crop up, not all the songs written with new love in mind are actually love songs. One, Pop Game, is a scathing stab at celebrity culture and the music industry. Mr. Kelley said that controlling his own label and music allowed him the freedom to record the bitter pop nugget.
"It probably would have never existed if I had depended on other people's money," he said. "I had a lot to prove on this record. It's actually a period I'm glad I'm past. Now that I've proved these things, I can move on to the next step."
For a few of the songs, Mr. Kelley worked with a familiar writing partner, his brother Charles. Charles, currently shopping a label deal for his Nashville combo Lady Antebellum, helped write Pop Game and Just Say the Word, and provided moral support for his now independent brother.
"I always joke with Charles, telling him that he was born to be my friend, that his purpose is to be my buddy," he said with a laugh. "Of course, we do argue and bicker from time to time, but in the end the best conclusion falls out. It's a pretty amazing relationship."
Like his earlier releases, For the Ride Home and Almost Honest, both released on Hollywood records, Just Say the Word takes something of a mix tape approach, embracing Mr. Kelley's love of pop, country, folk and rock. He said that after three eclectic albums, he'd like to settle down, once again professionally and personally, and release an album that's more focused and succinctly styled.
"I don't think I've found my niche - yet," he said. "I'm always learning and now I'm looking for something that's more honed in, more focused. But the thing is, people still love good music, music that fits every mood, and I think that's what these songs do."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to listen to a clip of Josh Kelley's Pop Game.
WHO: Josh Kelley, with Jennifer Paige and Keaton Simons
WHERE: The Country Club, 2834 Washington Road
COST: $12 advance, $15 day of. Tickets available at Somewhere in Augusta Bar and Grill, The Country Club and www.ETix.com. Call (800) 514-3849.