For singer-songwriter Josh Kelley, life just keeps getting better and better. With his fourth album, Special Company, climbing the charts, the Augusta, Ga. native is hard pressed to wipe the huge smile from his face. After years of songwriting and life on the road, he knows it can only continue to go up from here.
"For the Ride Home came out in 2003 and I've just been getting better every year," the 28-year-old Kelley says of the strides he's made since one of his first releases. "[I've become] a better musician, better singer, better writer and a better entertainer for sure, and that's what's supposed to happen, hopefully."
Kelley's musical progression is evident in this latest release, his fourth, from its sophisticated bluesy sound to the impressive record sales in the first couple weeks of its unveiling. An album inspired by one simple concept, it is infectious in its honesty and soul.
"This album is about unconditional love. It's about someone that just completes you," says Kelley, whose musical start can perhaps be traced to the guitar he received from his mom at age 11.
Tracks like "Tidal Wave" and "Hey Katie" give listeners a glimpse into Kelley's intense love for his wife, "Grey's Anatomy" actress Katherine Heigl, whom he met on the set of his video "Only You" a few years ago. Unafraid to lay it all on the line, Kelley approaches every note in each song with conviction. Influenced by life not only as a newlywed, he says he looks to each day's randomness for song ideas too.
"Anything and everything influences me musically," says Kelley, an idol of Motown legend Stevie Wonder. "You know it could be a grasshopper falling into some kid's ice cream cone. I'll start with a chord progression on the piano, hum to it, and then words start to formulate and become the theme of the song."
Writing is something that has always come naturally to Kelley, whether he's sitting at the piano or on the road with his guitar in tow. Expressing himself through music and lyrics is without a doubt a necessity.
"When you're a songwriter your albums are basically free therapy, whatever you wanna talk about can be on there," he explains. "The song 'Almost Honest' was inspired in Chicago. I was dating a different girl at the time and I almost did something I regretted, so I wrote a song about it, like personal therapy."